Hero K12 Gets a Facelift and a New Edtech Acquisition

Mergers and Acquisitions

Hero K12 Gets a Facelift and a New Edtech Acquisition

By Tony Wan     Feb 4, 2019

Hero K12 Gets a Facelift and a New Edtech Acquisition

When Hero K12 acquired SchoolMint two years ago, it didn’t just buy some school enrollment software. It also got a new boss—and a new brand.

In June 2017, Hero K12, based outside of Miami, received $150 million from BV Investment Partners to acquire other edtech companies in an effort to create an integrated education data platform. Four months later, Hero K12 minted its first deal: SchoolMint, which offers a mobile and web-based tool that helps parents and districts manage student applications and the enrollment process.

Since then, Hero K12 has undergone a makeover. It adopted the SchoolMint brand as the umbrella company. (Hero K12 employees have changed their email addresses to reflect the brand change.) And SchoolMint’s co-founder, Jinal Jhaveri, is now in charge of the entire operation. Hero K12’s former CEO, Mark MacDonald, left last January.

That also means Jhaveri has kept his title as CEO of SchoolMint, with one main difference: he now also oversees the other tools in the portfolio, and is in charge of acquiring other edtech companies.

The name change “makes sense when you think about the sequence in which parents and students engage with our products,” Jhaveri explains in an interview with EdSurge. SchoolMint’s enrollment tool, which is currently used by 4 million students and parents, “is the first touch point for families,” he explains, and that’s why it makes sense for the brand to be the face of the company.

By that logic, the next touch point in the SchoolMint suite might be Hero K12, which is used to digitally track students’ behavioral incidents. The company says the tool is used to both document the bad, like dress code violations and tardiness, and reinforce positive actions like class participation.

Or it could be SureWatch, the newest and latest addition to the SchoolMint portfolio. The acquisition closed last Thursday, and gives the company a set of campus safety management tools to keep track of who’s entering school grounds. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SchoolMint purchased SureWatch from its developer, Vericom, a Roseville, Calif.-based company founded in 1998 that builds identity authentication software. SureWatch offers monitoring tools for a variety of school-related activities, including test monitoring, attendance, emergency notifications, visitor registration and guest check-ins during events.

Jhaveri says that over the past several year, school officials have expressed interest in visitor management and school safety technologies. That spurred SchoolMint’s team to research this market and ultimately decide on SureWatch.

“School safety and visitor management is becoming a really important priority for our district customers,” he explains, and “we see this a rapidly growing part of the market.”

Of all the different categories of K-12 tools in the edtech industry, school security technology has become a bigger—and tragic—necessity. After the Parkland shooting, state legislators have earmarked more than $960 million for school safety programs, which include security upgrades, reports The74. School spending on security equipment is estimated to reach $2.8 billion, according to market research firm IHS Markit. Some schools have even installed facial-recognition technology to keep track of who’s coming and going.

The addition of SureWatch “dovetails nicely with our focus on helping districts more effectively attract, enroll, engage and retain their students,” says Oliver Wreford, SchoolMint’s chief revenue and strategy officer, who has been involved in each acquisition.

Efforts are underway to integrate these three product lines, Wreford adds. “As we think about the overlap between SchoolMint, Hero and SureWatch, what we’re excited about is the level of transparency and interaction that is possible.” For instance, a district that is using SchoolMint’s enrollment tool can share data about students and their parents with its campus safety systems. The end goal, he’s previously told EdSurge, is to assist schools in assembling an extensive data trail for each student’s educational journey, from enrollment to graduation.

Across these three tools, the company claims it serves more than 10,000 schools, including 18 of the 100 biggest U.S. K-12 school districts. The latest acquisition also pushes the team size past 120 full-time employees.

All those numbers could grow as it pursues other acquisitions. There’s still plenty of money left from the initial $150 million war chest, says Wreford, and the private-equity group who wrote that check will likely want to add more pieces. As is the case for Powerschool, Frontline Education and now, SchoolMint, it’s become trendy for private equity firms to invest or acquire one edtech company, and through it, build a platform of complementary educational services.

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