Brian Martinez, who worked in public accounting and was previously involved in another startup, met teacher Mandela Schumacher-Hodge through a mutual friend in Teach for America. Their first idea--originally called DemoLesson--revolved around the problem of hiring teachers. Through their experience at Imagine K12, the team broadened its approach. "Finding a job is only part of a teacher,” says Martinez. Tioki, he says, is a LinkedIn tailored for educators who want to brand and establish their expertise, interests, and connections.
How Does It Work? After signing up on the Tioki homepage, users immediately fill out a profile which includes personal information--including their location, current job, and a set of skills and expertise. Users can list education and work history, credentials, publications, and awards. They can also show off which tech tools they’re using. And similar to LinkedIn, they can award each other skill points. Users can find new connections based on email, school, and skills, along with jobs, events, and a discussion board. Schools can also list jobs.
Who’s Using It? Tioki currently has over 4,000 teachers in 28 countries. Martinez estimates 350 users found teaching jobs last year through the site.
Competition: Existing social networks including LinkedIn; frequently-visited job sites like Craigslist and Monster.com; according to Martinez. (Other social networks for teachers, such as Ning groups, Edmodo and others, don't include employment information.)
Business model: The network is free for teachers. Based on responses from schools that have expressed interest to using Tioki to find teachers, the company is considering a recruitment model where schools pay to list jobs.
Tioki closed up shop and shut down its website at the end of 2013.
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