This may have been Imagine K12’s sixth demo day but it was full of firsts, including the first nonprofit graduate as well as the first presentation graced with a drone buzzing about the stage. This year also marks the largest cohort to date for the celebrated edtech incubator, with seventeen companies in the lineup.
Imagine K12 co-founders Tim Brady and Geoff Ralston opened the day with some impressive statistics: With the completion of this cohort, 71 companies will have come through its doors, 90% of which are still active. All told, these companies have raised over $125 million (a good chunk accounted by Remind, which has raised nearly $60 million to date) and have launched products used by tens of millions of parents, teachers and students.
Here’s a rundown of Imagine K12’s most recent graduates. (An in-depth report will be available in the coming weeks.)
AdmitSee (paid): College counselors are few and far between, and private admission consultants charge thousands of dollars. That’s why Stephanie Shyu and Lydia Pierce Fayal started AdmitSee, an online marketplace for college application materials. Current college students and recent graduates create profiles that include resumes, essays and transcripts and other documents, which future applicants can purchase so they can see what a successful college application looks like. (Revenues are split 50-50 between the company and people who upload their materials.) The site boasts 5,000 application files and 100K monthly users. Currently sold directly to consumers, the team plans to sell subscriptions to high school guidance counselors and universities. The company has already raised $400K.
BrightLoop (free) tracks student progress and is mostly used in grades K-5 and special education. An “Evernote for schools,” teachers can attach notes and goals to specific student profiles and share them home, and qualitatively capture which students are doing well or struggling on certain skills. More about BrightLoop (including teacher reviews) in our Edtech Index.
Chesscademy (free): Why rely on God to save the queen when you can do it yourself? Founded by seven-time national chess champion, Andrew Ng (unrelated to the Coursera co-founder) and his friends (who are deferring from Stanford and Princeton), Chesscademy offers online video lessons to help chess players of all levels. Practice forks, prophylaxis, Lucena Positions and other strategies in interactive tutorials. Courses are currently free while the team is building out an adaptive learning pathway that recommends exercises based on how you fare against the computer opponent. Launched in February 2014, the tool already claims 400,000 users across 190 countries.
Educents (marketplace) is an online marketplace dedicated to getting discounted educational materials into the hands of teachers and parents. Users browse through available materials like workbooks, books and toys, and purchase items at steep discounts from retail prices. Educents made a splash as the last company to present, sporting impressive user numbers (135,000 monthly active users) and major revenue growth in its first year as a company. We’re definitely looking forward to receiving our Frozen 4 Puzzle pack!
Edusight (freemium, $100/teacher/yr for premium version) is a gradebook focused on bringing quantitative and qualitative data together in K-12 classrooms. Teachers can add quantitative data, audio, and video assessments to individual student profiles. 900 individuals use the free version of Edusight, and two districts have signed on for the premium version (around $100 per teacher per year, depending on district size).
Eduvee (free for now) is a study tool that combines open education resources (OER’s) and personalized learning to improve students’ performance in science courses. Eduvee provides study texts from OER’s and combines them with YouTube videos to organize study materials for students. It then tracks quiz results, highlighting, and other behaviors to customize future lessons for each student. Eduvee is available for science high school exams for both British and American students, and is currently free to use.
Formative (free) is a formative (surprise surprise) assessment platform that updates in real-time. Teachers can upload assignments, assign them to students, and in response, students record answers that immediately show up on the teacher’s dashboard. Founders Kevin McFarland and Craig Jones (also a former LAUSD teacher) explain that they endeavored to take the best elements of tools like Socrative and ShowMe, iterating and refining them on the Formative platform, formerly known as SmartestK12.
Leada (fee-based) offers courses to teach post-secondary or college graduates the skills required to be a data scientist. Each course culminates with a real-world project, allowing students to build their portfolio with work that prepares them for future jobs. Leada charges $99/course, and has three courses currently available; courses meet online and students receive individual help and attention from course instructors (who are also Leada’s co-founders.)
MathChat (free) helps students help each other. Teacher Sam Woodard noticed that when students didn’t understand a math problem, they would text a photo of it to a friend to get help. On MathChat, students can enter or draw a math problem, add friends to it, and collaborate by drawing, typing, and asking each other follow-up questions. More about Mathchat (including teacher reviews) in our Edtech Index.
Mission 100% (subscription) makes best practices in teaching widely available. The company starts by videotaping top educators from around the U.S. in their classrooms, then edits those videos down to short clips that can be accessed via their online platform. Each clip is tagged according to Mission 100%’s pedagogical framework for easy searching and incorporation in lessons. Aimed at school leaders, instructional coaches, and teachers, Mission 100% is subscription-based and offers content for K-12 students.
Mosa Mack Science (subscription) offers inquiry-based lessons and videos for science classrooms grades 3-8, guided by a diverse set of characters. Each lesson--there are now three, on food webs, climate change, and photosynthesis, and plans for 16 additional lessons are in the works--offers an animated mystery with songs, customizable inquiry options, and corresponding classroom activities. Mosa Mack's been a hit among teachers at EdSurge ; here’s their feedback.
Peekapak (freemium): The early education market abounds with resources for use in schools and homes, but how many bridge the divide from classroom to the living room? Peekapak has created a suite of content resources that work both in the classroom and at home. Geared toward learners ages 4-8, the product includes original stories with recurring characters, as well as Common Core-aligned activities and lesson plans. Peekapak has raised $300K to date.
Picolab (free): Tools like Google Drive make sharing easier, but communication difficult. Picolab syncs with your Google account to make professional collaboration more efficient. The platform helps users organize data, take notes as a group, and track meeting objectives. While the company started out as exclusively meant for schools, they’ve since branched into other industries as well.
ReadWorks (free): Imagine K12’s first nonprofit offers teachers reading comprehension lesson plans and materials that include thousands of articles and books, vocabulary lessons and formative assessments in the form of pre-made worksheets and quizzes. Aligned to the state and Common Core reading standards, these freebies have been downloaded by 440,000 K-8 teachers during the current school year. Here’s what a few of them have to say about the tool.
TeachMe (free) is an online suite of internet math games, available for teachers, students, and parents to use inside and outside the classroom. Covering math concepts in Pre-K to 9th grade and searchable by Common Core State Standards, TeachMe also has progress reports and dashboards for parents and teachers to track individual student performance. TeachMe was launched by former game designers who are determined to always keep the product free. With 68,000 new users in December alone, the company has experienced 800% organic growth in the last four months.
Tickle (private beta) lets students of all ages learn to code on their mobile devices. Using a block-based programing language similar to Scratch and Blockly, students can create games and interactive stories, and even program their Smart Toys. (Founder Mike Chen showed off a drone that he programmed using the Tickle app during his presentation.) The product is aimed at learners age 8+ and is currently in paid private beta.
Trinket (free): Learning to code is great. But even the most enthusiastic of learners can get frustrated by having to spend hours setting up the local coding environment. That’s why Elliott Hauser created this entirely browser-based coding tool. Trinket focuses on the Python coding language is currently free while the team explores revenue models. Here’s what teachers have said about the tool.
EdSurge’s Charley Locke, MaryJo Madda, Tony Wan, and Michael Winters contributed to these profiles.