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ClassDojo raises $21 million for app to make parent-teacher meetings obsolete

TechCrunch TechCrunch 15/04/2016 Lora Kolodny

ClassDojo has raised $21 million in Series B round of venture funding for tech that connects educators to students’ parents, and helps them communicate consistently about student’s activities, social and behavioral development at school.

Communicating throughout the year, and even throughout the school day, means parents are apprised of what their kids are experiencing and how they are behaving at school all the time, not surprised by incidents that are only discussed in a once-a-semester parent-teacher meeting.

According to cofounders Sam Chaudhary and Liam Don, the company closed the round in late 2015, and are using the capital to grow their team, and to figure out what kind of content and features can be useful to parents who use the app, not just during the school day, but at home.

Chaudhary said, “The idea is to help parents guide conversations at home and support or enhance the learning and development their kids are doing at school.”

Teachers use ClassDojo to make a schedule of activities known to parents, usually daily. They can also use the app throughout the day to snap and send photos or videos to parents showing off a student’s latest work or participation in activities.

When it was founded in 2011, ClassDojo’s founders say they saw lots of other education tech businesses creating digital curriculum, grade books and testing platforms. But they didn’t see a free, and easy-to-use app that would create a culture and community between teachers, students and their parents.

That said, they do face competition from edtech companies like Remind, FreshGrade, Nearpod, Kickboard and others that want to keep schools and students’ parents connected.

Today, the company reports, ClassDojo is actively used by teachers in 85,000 schools in the United States, ranging from private and charter schools to the largest public schools in the country.

Most users are teaching kindergarten through 8th grade classes.

For now, ClassDojo is focused on distributing its app to even more teachers and parents. The 25-employee startup has not yet generated revenue.

One thing the founders say they will never do is make revenue off of user’s data. “Privacy is a huge concern any time kids are involved,” said CTO Liam Don. Instead, they believe they could create premium features and content that parents would pay to use.

The company’s Series B round was led by General Catalyst. New investors in ClassDojo included GSV, Reach Capital and SignalFire.

The San Francisco-based startup, founded in 2011, has raised $31 million in venture funding to-date, and graduated from the education tech accelerator, Imagine K12, now a part of Y Combinator.

General Catalyst Managing Director Hemant Taneja said, “In the early days, ClassDojo was a tool to help teach good behavioral traits. But now it is being used for parent, teacher and student collaboration.”

The deal represents his firm’s only education tech investment today.

He sees ClassDojo’s user growth as analogous to a social network and messaging platform like Facebook or Snapchat, though it is an app purpose built for education.

“Any monetization for this company, and we don’t expect ClassDojo to go there for another year or so, needs to be driven by what parents and teachers need, what they are already trying to do to enhance their kids’ chance of success in life,” the investor said.

It’s not hard to imagine parents using an app like ClassDojo, he said, to buy content like custom yearbooks, or videos, discussion guides and lessons that they could use with their kids at home.

The app could also include transactional features that enable parents to pay schools via their phones for things like field trips, lunches or supplies, which they now pay for with cash or checks tucked into a kids’ backpack.

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