My sister is a kindergarten teacher, so I often harass her with questions about the latest ed tech tool or learning app that crosses my inbox. Usually, she says she’s never heard of or doesn’t use the cool, venture-backed service the blogosphere happens to be raving about that day (because, let’s be honest, there are tons of new classroom tools but teachers have only so much time to try them out). So it was a surprise, last week, when it was my sister who sent me an email gushing about an ed tech startup.
Launched about two years ago, Remind101 gives teachers a simple and safe way to send text messages to parents and students. And my sister clearly isn’t its only fan: the company says it’s used by more than 400,000 teachers and, on Tuesday, announced that it had raised $3.5 million from a group of top investors.
The Series A round, which was led by the Social + Capital Partnership and included First Round Capital and Yuri Milner, follows a $1 million seed round.
“We think education as a whole is incredibly primitive,” co-founder and CEO Brett Kopf told me. “The physical infrastructure of the school hasn’t changed very much and how they transfer information hasn’t changed very much.”
From written permission slips to school intercom systems, he said, education-related communication hasn’t changed for decades. Through its mobile app, Remind101 enables teachers to send one-way messages about field trips, homework, school closings and other kinds of logistical or motivational messages.
Teachers may already use email or social networking tools like Edmodo to communicate with parents or students. But Remind101 gives teachers an easy way to broadcast messages to a group of parents or students at once – and it includes extra features to promote safety. It doesn’t share anyone’s cell phone number (teachers never see parents’ or students’ numbers and vice versa), it doesn’t enable parents or students to respond to teachers’ messages and it doesn’t allow anyone to delete messages (which could help ensure appropriate communication).
With the new funding, Kopf said the company is focused on hiring more engineers and boosting teacher support. And, while he didn’t get into specifics, he added the company sees additional opportunities for transitioning schools away from “archaic” modes of communication.
For now, the service is free as it concentrates on adding new users. But, down the road, Kopf indicated that it could add services and charge school districts or parents.