Until recently, education technology hasn’t been seen as a big winner among venture capitalists. But here’s yet more evidence that investors are giving the category another look.
Clever, an education data startup that was part of Y Combinator’s summer class, is set to announce Monday that it’s raised a healthy $3 million in seed funding.
The San Francisco-based company not only attracted investments from leaders in the education field, including Princeton Review and 2U (previously 2tor) founder John Katzman, Chegg founder Aayush Phumbhra and Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis, it drew the backing of some of Silicon Valley’s top consumer tech investors. The company said the majority of the Y Combinator partners personally participated in the round, as did SV Angel, Floodgate’s Mike Maples, SoftTech VC’s Jeff Clavier, Google Ventures, Bessemer, Kapor Capital’s Mitch Kapor, and actor/investor Ashton Kutcher.
CEO and co-founder Tyler Bosmeny said that for many investors, it was their first ed tech investment. “They’re excited by something that has this much potential to improve education at a systemic level,” he said.
As we wrote about back in August when Clever graduated from Y Combinator, the startup plays a key role in helping education-focused developers access student data stored in legacy Student Information Systems (SISes). That process, which is being similarly tackled by another San Francisco startup LearnSprout, has historically been a big headache for schools and developers. Without API platforms, accessing student data (such as attendance records, grades and addresses) can be a weeks-long, error-prone process that discourages schools from incorporating new technology.
Clever said it now charges more than 40 software companies, including Scientific Learning, Dreambox Learning and TenMarks, for access to its platform. And Bosmeny said the company has doubled the number of schools using Clever from 1,000 in August to 2,000 schools and 650,000 students, including charter schools and major public school districts.
As of now, the company is just six people but, as they grow, Bosmeny said, they’re increasingly attracting talent from Silicon Valley big guns Google, Facebook and Twitter.
“One of the things they keep saying is I really want to work on problems that can change the world,” he said. “[In education], we think this is potentially the biggest thing – this problem of data.”
Image by Tatiana Popova via Shutterstock.