NoRedInk raises $2 million, postpones Business Model
NoRedInk, another teacher founded startup in the K-12 space, announced that it raised $2 million from Google Ventures, Social+Capital, Learn Capital, Charles River Ventures, NewSchools Venture Fund and others, or in short “the usual suspects”. The web based app helps students to work on their spelling and grammar.
Right from the start NoRedInk received some really positive reviews and has gained good traction. According to edsurge about 12.000 schools are using NoRedInk, already. Of course, the product comes as a free version but before the funding round there have been plans to charge schools $10 per student for a premium version of NoRedInk.
Those plans are now buried. NoRedInk’s founder Jeff Scheuer wrote the schools on the waiting list that they weren’t in need of their money thanks to the funding round. “Our investors want to see engagement” Scheuer told edsurge.
So once again we have a startup that drops revenue for growth. Over the past two weeks we wrote about two startups in edtech that got acquired due to a missing business model. If a NoRedInk had hundreds of schools on the waiting list for the premium offering we are talking about enough money to bootstrap the startup and grow without the need of external funding. If we estimate 200 schools with 150 students each were interested in a premium offer we would talk about $300.000 in revenue.
But I suppose that the game plan now is to grab as much market share as possible through offering the service for free, raise another round at the end of 2013 or early 2014 and then either “switch on” revenue or get acquired. As Audrey Watters tweeted
I sorta shudder when I see that an edu startup’s business model is raising VC funding https://t.co/Rq0gPT5PLJ
— Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) August 22, 2013
The Dutch O4NT (Education for a New Era) Foundation has launched its first seven Steve JobsSchools. As the name implies Apple products play a major role in the classroom. In fact the Steve JobsSchools are among the first with a 1:1 student to iPad ratio.
But reducing those schools to just the devices would not be fair as O4NT created a whole new teaching approach around the technology empowered classrooms. The Steve JobsSchools have no fixed schedule and are more a hub for learning activities. Children learn together in broader age groups and they can meet to play or learn all day.
Special software like the iDesk Learning Tracker which allows parents to follow their children’s progress or sCoolSpace, a virtual reality meeting application are also part of the program. Students also need to keep track of their learning with TikTik sCoolTool.
I encourage you to visit the Steve JobsSchool website to learn more about this concept and the different tools.
Betterfly and Google Helpouts – Canaries in the Coalmine?
It has been quite some time since I last wrote about startups in the online live video lesson space. After an initial hype five years ago no one seemed to be keen on tackling this vertical anymore. To the contrary, we saw edtech startups like Skillshare that explicitly pointed out the value of learning in the real world. But recently more and more startups offer live video lessons again, like InstaEDU that just raised $4 million for their tutor cloud. And even Skillshare added an online component.
Betterfly, another startup in the lifelong learning space that originally connected students and tutors for real life lessons has now pivoted its business into an online learning platform after raising an additional $1 million. Based on what the Betterfly team noticed on the platform, there is a clear shift of professionals moving their teaching to Skype or other VoIP services.
And even Google is interested in that space. Based on the Google Hangout infrastructure, Google Helpouts are going to enable experts to charge for their advice through Google Wallet. The service is still in closed beta but you can already subscribe to get notified when Google Helpouts go live.