Newly launched edtech startup ClassEDU has raised $16 million in seed funding to bring back the happiness of school to teachers and students with its pandemic-friendly education software.
The D.C.-based startup plans to use the fresh funding to bring its edtech software product ‘Class for Zoom’ to market, which is set to launch its beta version and has opened up its waitlist recently.
ClassEDU secured the funds for its Class for Zoom from a portfolio of education investors, including some of Zoom’s own financial backers such as Santi Subotovsky of Emergence Capital (a current Zoom board member), Jim Scheiman of Maven Ventures (an early investor in Zoom and the person who is credited with naming Zoom), and Bill Tai (Zoom’s first committed backer). Other investors include Deborah Quazzo of GSV Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, SWaN & Legend Venture Partners, and Jessie Woolley-Wilson of DreamBox Learning.
The startup was co-founded by prominent D.C.-based entrepreneur Michael Chasen, co-founder and former CEO of Blackboard. Class for Zoom is its first product, which is built for teachers to help find a way to create more engaging and live-synchronous learning. Although the name seems like a third-party add-on to Zoom, it’s an entirely independently owned company.
Class for Zoom adds some everyday activities for educators, such as taking attendance, curating quizzes and grading, etc. Teachers can take the video call as a one-stop shop for their entire lesson, from synching materials from the CMS system to polling students on their thought to grading the quiz they just took. They can launch live assignments, quizzes, and tests, which can be completed by students in real time. Class for Zoom allows teachers to unmute a class or mute a class during appropriate times. It also allows them to see how much time a student is participating in activities.
Commenting on what prompted him to launch the startup and create the Class for Zoom, Michael Chasen, who led mapping startup SocialRadar and drone tech company PrecisionHawk after his time at Blackboard, said in a statement,
“As the father of three school-age kids, I have a front row seat to how challenging remote learning is. That’s why we designed Class for Zoom to feel and work like an in-person classroom, and to bring back the happiness of school to teachers and students.”
Class for Zoom allows teachers and students to talk privately without leaving the Zoom call if there’s a question, a key for shy students who might not want to speak up or struggle to share in front of an entire classroom. While the tool has attention-tracking feature, it allows students to disable the ability to track focus. The tool also allows teachers to monitor a student’s desktop during an exam to limit cheating.
Commenting on the funding, Steve Case, Co-founder of AOL and CEO of Revolution, said,
“Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund is thrilled to back a D.C.-based company that is tackling one of the nation’s biggest problems today. The widespread adoption of online learning tools is likely to outlast the COVID-19 pandemic, reshaping education both in and out of the classroom. Teachers will continue to rely on tools like Class for Zoom that promises to make remote learning more enriching and vibrant for students.”
While Michael Chasen declined to share the pricing for the new platform, he told TechCrunch that it is a work in progress to find a price point that districts can afford. While it is also unclear whether the company will charge per seat, the founder said that it will charge some type of subscription service fee. Chasen hopes to make the tool accessible to any school that wants it by January 2021.