Educational app

STI buys Chalkable for $ 10 million to bring its educational app store and learning platform to K-12 schools – TechCrunch


As entrepreneurs begin to realize the huge demand for better learning tools and the potential for technology to remove some of the long-standing barriers within the system, startups have started to pour into the market. education. As a result, venture capital investment has started to flow into education, and with the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurial and engineering talent, established players are become buyers.

In October, Amazon first went into education with the acquisition of math education company TenMarks, and a new month brings another first-time buyer and another acquisition from EdTech, such as STI has taken over the education-focused app store, Chalkable.

STI is the 30-year-old manufacturer of educational data management solutions for K-12 schools, which focuses its suite of products on student information systems, parent-teacher communications and reporting, among others. With its acquisition of Chalkable, STI is another example of a seasoned education player looking to keep pace with the demand for more accessible and user-friendly learning tools by injecting new talent and technology into its ranks.

Following the deal, the nine members of the Chalkable team will join STI, and Michael Levy and Zoli Honig, CEO and COO of the startup respectively, will remain directors of STI’s new Chalkable team. Unlike some startup acquisitions, Chalkable’s product will remain active and, according to a source with knowledge of the deal, will be combined with technology from other acquisitions and STI’s SIS product, iNow, to give the company a modernized product. and revamped.

As part of STI’s movement to become a more modern (and visible) EdTech company, it hired a new CEO and COO, both with decades of experience in K-12 education and tech companies to help to lead the charge. It also means that STI appears ready to invest capital to inject new talent, as we learn from sources that the company paid around $ 10 million to acquire Chalkable.

The graduate 500 Startups was launched in September last year with a platform that aimed to serve schools both as an app store and as a learning management system, serving more than 50 institutions before its acquisition. The startup was launched with $ 1.3 million in funding from 500 startups, Expansion Venture Capital, former Facebook privacy manager Chris Kelley and former Facebook mobile platform manager Luke Shepard, among others.

Chalkable aimed to solve a nagging question among schools, parents and students: “Where can I find e-learning tools on the web?” The amount of digital learning applications, content and tools on the web and mobile devices is growing rapidly and is fragmented across a range of different sources. Chalkable’s mission is to provide an aggregated resource for teachers and parents to find these tools, which until the recent entry of Google (along with Google Play for Education) did not exist for educational content in line.

The App Store lists the best educational apps from a litany of resources across the web, making it easy to find and discover great content and the click-to-buy. Supported by its core learning management system, it has enabled teachers to extract student data and accounts from platforms and services like Khan Academy, Dropbox and Google, putting downloaded apps via store and class data in one place.

While the idea is very appealing, the road can be difficult for startups operating in the K-12 market, as much of school spending is traditionally controlled by administrators at the district or district level. State. The sales process can be lengthy and is often mired in bureaucracy, and growth has been measured for Chalkable (as it is for most) for the same reason.

Naturally, with a model like Chalkable’s, the more control teachers have over budget decision-making, the more freedom they have to choose and purchase apps – and the more revenue Chalkable sees as a result. Chalkable first partnered with STI, but given STI’s much larger footprint, its services are now used by 5,000 schools in the United States and serving over 1.5 million students, a acquisition ultimately made more sense.

With STI’s Alabama state contract, Chalkable now has the ability to sell to any school in the state, and for a startup with useful service that can get a bit frothy, that’s an opportunity that’s too much. beautiful to let it pass.

And for STI, Chalkable now enables its institutional clients to bring more modern, user-friendly and technical tools – the kind that students use every day outside of the classroom – into the learning process. In turn, it allows teachers, as well as students, to create personalized “playlists” of learning content and personalized application experiences tailored to each member of a class.

“STI is always looking for ways to deliver cutting-edge educational tools to our students, teachers and parents,” said new STI CEO Derek Dunaway in the company announcement. “The tools available through the Chalkable platform will increase our students’ access to highly relevant educational content and allow teachers to personalize instruction through personalized apps recommended for each student’s learning level. “

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