Nearpod, which offers a tool to help teachers create and distribute digital lessons and presentations, has closed an undisclosed Series A round; sources close to the deal say it’s in the ballpark of $5.6 million.
Reach Capital and Rothenberg Ventures led the deal, with Storm Ventures, Emerson Collective, Stanford-StartX Fund, the Knight Foundation, Arsenal Venture Partners and Krillion Venture also participating. Individuals Marc Benioff (CEO of Salesforce) and Deborah Quazzo (managing partner of GSV Advisors) also chipped in.
Reach Capital is the for-profit fund spun off from NewSchools Venture Fund in January 2015. Jennifer Carolan, former Managing of the NewSchools Seed Fund, is now General Partner at Reach Capital, which will operate under the management company, NewSchools Capital.
Launched in 2012, Nearpod offers an app that allows teachers to create multimedia-rich lessons and presentations that can be shared with students on iOS, Android, Windows 8 and devices with modern web browsers. In addition to text, images and videos, each Nearpod slide can include quizzes, polls and assignments that teachers can track.
Nearpod “allows students to express their knowledge in modern ways,” says CEO Guido Kovalskys. “They can draw and create recordings and videos in a frictionless way and the content can be synchronized in class.”
Many of the content creation tools are available for free. Additional features, reports and support are available starting at $10 per user, per month; school and district pricing is negotiable. Nearpod also has a store where teachers can access free and paid content from individual authors and partners that currently include CK-12, LearnZillion and TIME for Kids.
The company says more than 1.8 million students use the tool every month, and claims it has paid contracts in over 1,000 schools. Nearpod was one of the tools piloted in middle-school math classes in San Francisco Unified School District, after Salesforce.com donated $2.7 million and 1,500 iPads in 2013. ( Here’s the case study.)
One key to making the freemium model work, says Kovalskys, was being able to “find smart and elegant ways to convert deep teacher interest and usage into a qualified sales lead, and mindfully build the bridge between these teachers and the higher-up [administrators].”
With the funding, Nearpod, with offices in Menlo Park, CA and Hallandale Beach, FL, will focus on growing its sales and marketing staff.