On September 25, Salt Lake City, UT-based MasteryConnect raised $15.2 million in a Series B round led by Trinity Ventures, with Pelion Ventures and Catamount Ventures participating. With the funding, MasteryConnect plans to grow its sales team and expand further into international markets. This round brings MasteryConnect’s total funding to $24 million.
MasteryConnect enables educators to track student mastery of both Common Core and state standards. Using the cloud-based software program, teachers can administer publisher-created tests and quizzes or create their own, and use automated scoring to generate quick assessments. Progress reports can then be shared with parents and other teachers through the platform.
This year has been a big one for MasteryConnect. In its last fiscal year, ending June 30, 2014, MasteryConnect made $5 million, and “should almost triple that this year,” CEO Cory Reid tells EdSurge. According to Reid, the company should become profitable within the next “few years.”
Reid attributes much of MasteryConnect’s success to its freemium model and early focus on sales. “One unique thing we’ve done from the beginning is focus on sales, just as much as acquiring users and user activity,” he said. “We’ve created an enterprise-quality sales and implementation machine, which most others in edtech don’t have.” With teachers in 85% of the nation’s districts using MasteryConnect--and 1200 districts in 48 states paying for the premium version--the machine seems to be working.
Reid sees the freemium model as succeeding largely due to teacher word-of-mouth. “Procurement in education is totally broken, a top-down series of broken joints,” says Reid. “If our mission is to get teachers to identify student progress in real time, we want to get the tools in their hands whether they pay or not.” And how does MasteryConnect convert these users from the free to the premium model? “The teachers evangelize to their administrators in an amazing way,” he explains.
These educator evangelists have catalyzed what Reid sees as “a tsunami of mastery-based learning across the country.” Mastery-based learning assesses student comprehension of specific objectives as specified by either state or Common Core standards. By enabling teachers to check student retention more frequently throughout instruction, the tool “makes it possible for teachers to identify that real-time understanding and personalize learning with more challenging work or remediation much more quickly,” explains Reid.
The company’s website boasts of compatibility with Common Core standards, although Reid is quick to stress that MasteryConnect is “Core agnostic.” In addition to Common Core standards, the platform allows teachers to track student progress according to over 6,000 state standards.
In June 2014, MasteryConnect expanded its offerings by acquiring Socrative, a real-time student response system to teacher-created quizzes, for $5 million. In the next few months, Socrative will be fully integrated into MasteryConnect’s free version: Reid explains, “we’re not charging for Socrative use in the K-12 space, and will not.” Socrative has added an “intra-instruction” functionality to MasteryConnect’s standards assessment tools.
With additional functionalities from Socrative and $15.2 million in the bank, MasteryConnect is ready to grow. “We’ve grown from 35 team members in March  to over 70 today, and will be over 100 by the end of the fiscal year,” says Reid. The sales team has grown from 7 to 24 employees, and Reid plans to accelerate hiring for development and sales teams, as well as create marketing campaigns for the first time and expand MasteryConnect’s reach. “Now we can start tapping into areas where we haven’t done much work before,” he explains. “We’re moving more definitively internationally.”