YC-backed Padlet gains traction with software that lets groups create content collaboratively


If you want to share your own content, the web offers no shortage of publishing tools, from full-on blogging platform WordPress to lightweight Tumblr to mobile micro-blogging app CheckThis. But the options aren’t as plentiful when it comes to easily creating online multimedia content with a group.

Startup Padlet, which has been simultaneously enrolled in Y Combinator and ed tech accelerator Imagine K-12, has created software to fill that hole. It lets people quickly create an online “wall” for sharing any kind of content, from text to images to video, and allows them to collaborate on the creation of that content as well. It first launched as Wallwisher in 2008, but re-launched the product in October and changed its name to Padlet in January. The founders, who will be on stage Tuesday at Y Combinator’s Demo Day on Tuesday, say the site has seen 30 percent month-over-month growth for the last seven months and has had 300,000 users and 750,000 visitors in the last 30 days.

While the site has been open to anyone, co-founder Pranav Piyush said a number of teachers have been using it to post class files and encourage student collaboration. “There’s no obvious answer to what a school teacher should use that’s fun and collaborative,” he said. “We’ve set out to find the easiest way to put stuff on the Web.”

On Padlet.com, users create a “wall” with its own URL with one click. Then they can choose how public or private they want it to be and how much control they want to give others. They can add content and change the design with a drag-and-drop interface. A teacher could use it to share and collect images and video related to a history lesson or friends could use it to share memories and pictures from a recent trip. The NYC Public Advocate’s Office used Padlet to collect online tributes for the first responders to Hurricane Sandy.

padlet - sandyOther online collaboration tools exist but they tend to provide slightly different functionality. Google Docs, for example, let people share and collaborate around documents and spreadsheets, but they tend to focus on text (you can share images and drawings but not in an integrated way). Scoot & Doodle, a new startup that recently raised funding from Pearson and others, encourages online collaboration, but via Google Hangouts and with more of a focus on real-time face-to-face communication. Dropbox is great for sharing files with a group but not really built for group content production. In education, teachers could use social platforms like Edmodo and Schoology to share content and collaborate, although those sites are intended for far more than one-off collaborative projects).

While the basic product is free, Piyush said the company is piloting premium versions for schools and corporate clients. The startup also envisions opening up the platform to third-party developers to create a paid marketplace of add-ons for further customizing with backgrounds, themes and other tools.

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