Remind’s Path to Revenue: Processing Payments for School Events

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Image credit: Shutterstock

How often does Brett Kopf get reminded about the need to find a revenue stream for his free product?

This week, the chief executive of Remind finally has an answer: Activities, a feature that allows educators and administrators to digitally collect funds and distribute tickets for field trips, fundraisers and events. The San Francisco-based startup will take a cut from these payments.

Activities takes aim at the precarious journey of a permission slip. Kopf tells EdSurge that many users have expressed frustration with sending forms home with students only to see them vanish. Teachers sometimes must collect and organize dozens of cash and check payments for field trips and events. When administrators collect those payments en masse, they find themselves waltzing through hallways holding envelopes stuffed with cash, a situation that’s uncomfortable in any crowd, much more so amidst curious students.

Image courtesy of Remind

Remind will take a five percent commission fee on any payment from parents. “Our largest user base is students and parents, and it was much more convenient to charge them than to charge schools,” Kopf says.

This is the first time that the company, which has raised $59.5 million in venture capital, can publicly point to revenue. Since its launch in 2011, Remind has kept mum about plans to monetize. Typically, most freemium businesses attempt a two-pronged strategy: attract users to free services, and later upsell them on paid features.

The company has accomplished that first task, having amassed more than 35 million teachers, parents and students, who together send about 250 million messages each month. Schools do not pay to use Activities, says the company, although Remind will take a cut of all transactions.

Few “freemium” edtech startups have shown they can generate revenue to make expected returns on the venture capital they’ve raised. ClassDojo has yet to disclose how its revenue plans, despite having raised more than $30 million and claiming users in 85,000 schools. Edmodo, with 65 million users and $87.5 million in venture funding, is still searching for sustainable revenue.

 

Image courtesy of Remind

Remind has been beta testing the new feature with roughly 250,000 parents, who have participated in some 10,000 activities created by schools. The majority of the activities are events, with field trips in second. Kopf wouldn’t confirm a revenue figure from the activities, but did say that over $1 million has been requested in Remind Activities, which means that Remind may have collected more than $50,000 from the feature during the beta period. The company did not share the percentage of the 10,000 activities that requested payments. Kopf did, however, highlight one principal who created a fundraiser in Remind Activities and raised $1,000 in 10 minutes from his community.

With Activities, Kopf aims to target not just teachers and administrators, but also after-school programs and clubs. His vision is to make the payment tool useful across all facets of school routines.

The market for such a tool is not empty, though. PermissionClick makes a similar product that collects signatures on forms and payments for programs and field trips. SchoolPay does the same and also makes an accompanying Square-esque device to collect credit card payments. Some school districts such as Broward County in Florida and Wake County in North Carolina have even created their own district-wide payment systems.

When asked whether his investors were becoming restless about Remind’s lack of revenue, Kopf said, “We’re building Activities on top of robust line of products, and our investors are aligned with this strategy. Our goal is for everyone to already be talking so often on Remind that using the payments service in addition to that comes naturally.”

Image courtesy of Remind
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