You may have just bought a box of Thin Mints from the local Girl Scout troop (or maybe that's just me), but there’s a new mint in town, and it’s not a cookie.
SchoolMint, based in San Francisco, has raised an $5.6 million Series A round from Runa Capital, which led the round, and Reach Capital, Fresco Capital, Govtech Fund, Kapor Capital, Crosslink Capital, Maiden Lane Ventures, CSC Upshot and individual investors Jared Kopf and Gusto co-founders Josh Reeves and Tomer London. Along with a seed round in September 2014, the company has now raised $8 million.
Founded in 2013, SchoolMint claims to have a presence in 2,000 schools in 30 states and four countries, serving more than 1.5 million pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students. The company claims that the company has grown fourfold since its September 2014 seed round, adding 500 schools in the past four months alone to bring its total up to 2000 schools.
CEO Jinal Jhaveri describes the company as a “mobile and online school choice platform that allows schools to manage the whole process—from recruiting to payment—including any paperwork and analytics on schools’ progress.” Parents can also use the platform to manage different processes involving charter lotteries, school choice within districts, registration, enrollment, and payments. The systems works with independent, public, charter and parochial schools.
SchoolMint, a 2014 Imagine K12 incubator alumnus, was born of Jhaveri and cofounder and COO Forum Desai’s frustration with their daughter’s kindergarten enrollment process. The couple previously ran a web design firm, Log(n), which had been hired to design custom application management systems for Rocketship and Great Hearts Academy charter school networks. The process of creating those systems, laborious and expensive, jumpstarted the founding of Schoolmint.
Jhaveri believes SchoolMint’s emphasis on mobile has been a key factor in its growth. According to him, it is possible to complete any process SchoolMint handles through a mobile device, and the usage backs his word: more than 55 percent of SchoolMint’s customers access the platform through phones and tablets. (SchoolMint also works in web browsers.) Jhaveri also observed that the mobile functionality also makes the application appealing to low-income districts and families, many of whom use only mobile connections.
Because school choice and enrollment is a paper-based process, the emphasis on mobile also allows users to leapfrog a fast-fading piece of technology: scanners. Users take pictures of their documents to upload to SchoolMint. The emphasis on mobile may have two edges, though. Atlanta Classical Academy’s SchoolMint help page advises parents to use Google Chrome because of “known bugs when using Internet Explorer and Safari.”
Many edtech companies run into problems integrating with individual schools and their idiosyncratic enrollment processes, but Jhaveri claims that his team can get a school from purchasing to running on SchoolMint in just 21 days. Much of the funding will go towards ensuring this process stays smooth: Jhaveri plans to hire more members for the sales and customer success teams to keep up with demand from schools.
The company serves several large urban school districts in Indianapolis, Camden, NJ and Cleveland. Lory Pilchik, the company’s new Chief Marketing Manager, said word-of-mouth referrals have fueled SchoolMint’s heretofore organic growth. She’ll be in charge of coordinating the company’s first marketing efforts.
Of the investors, Jhaveri highlighted Josh Reeves and Tomer London, the founders of Gusto, an online human resources platform, as advisers with a valuable perspective outside of education. “CEOs are seeing synchronicity between automating HR and fixing processes with schools,” Jhaveri said. “We are both solving a very old-style, paper-based way of administrating things.”
Jhaveri believes that 90 percent of schools still use paper for these processes, so SchoolMint may have plenty of room to grow.