This article was published on October 22, 2012

Clever raises $3M from SV Angel, Google Ventures, others to bring online learning to 2,000+ schools

Clever raises $3M from SV Angel, Google Ventures, others to bring online learning to 2,000+ schools
Ken Yeung
Story by

Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a reporter for The Next Web based in San Francisco, CA. He carries around a big camera & likes to write about tech, startup Ken Yeung is a reporter for The Next Web based in San Francisco, CA. He carries around a big camera & likes to write about tech, startups, parties, and interesting people. Follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, and Google+.

Bringing the Internet into the classroom to facilitate learning has gotten a little bit easier thanks to Clever. And today, the company is announcing that it has raised $3 million in seed funding from top investors both in Silicon Valley and in the education industry. On top of this, it is also sharing news that its platform designed to enable schools to integrate their central student information systems (SIS) with online learning apps has been adopted by over 2,000 schools.

Started by former Harvard classmates, Tyler Bosmeny, Dan Carroll, and Rafael Garcia, Clever was created to help solve the challenge of bringing technology to the classroom. The founders — and in particular, Carroll, a former Director of Technology in a school district — discovered that when technology was added, it became just more work for teachers, and not the reverse. There needed to be an easier way.

The investors

Clever’s seed round is funded by the majority of partners in Y Combinator, SV Angel, Mike Maples, Jeff Clavier, Google Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Mitch Kapor, and Ashton Kutcher. Additionally, several founders and leaders within the education space have also invested, including John Katzman (founder of the Princeton Review), Aayush Phumbhra (founder of Chegg), Matt MacInnis (CEO of Inkling), and Deborah Quazzo (CEO of GSV Advisors).

We had a chance to speak with Katzman about why he chose to invest in Clever. He believes that the education industry is on the verge of tremendous change in K-12 and higher education with change catalyzed by technology. Katzman is continually on the lookout for teams and companies that understand the “receptors to technology” and he believes that Clever has the potential to be a facilitator of changes that will dramatically improve the country’s schools.

Furthermore, he tells us that he funded the company because it is solving a problem — something that mattered. The solution needed to lower costs and increase quality of both content and tool, which Clever appeared to do. Lastly, he wanted to see what the management team was like and discovered that it’s a group of good, smart people who he feels have put forward an elegant solution to the education dilemma.

The company and the movement

While Clever started in March 2012, it didn’t officially launch until June 2012 after it went through the YC program. Bosmeny told us that YC’s Paul Graham had set a goal for the company to work with 40 schools. It wound up working with more than 2,000 schools today (that’s over 650,000 students!). And while schools are normally slow to adopt technology and take time to implement change, Clever can allow any school to implement its solution in as little as five minutes.

Many schools are eager to utilize blended learning (great teachers with great technology) in their classrooms. Previously, any attempt to do so was met with frustration because of the enormous time and resources needed to maintain the data and system. Clever’s implementation helps to streamline this and help remove any frustration.

The startup doesn’t charge the schools anything to implement this solution. Instead, the partners that it works with pays Clever to integrate with the school. It has partnered with over 40 of the leading companies in K-12 education, including DreamBox, Scientific Learning, and MasteryConnect. All data collected by the service and transmitted between the school’s SIS database and the partners is secure and well-protected, according to Bosmeny.

With this round of funding, Clever will work to help get its technology into as many schools as possible. It currently has hundreds of schools on the waiting list with teachers eager to use this solution. Hiring will also be a big focus for the company as it looks to bring on great engineers to join its small team of five employees.

Bosmeny believes that Clever is on the edge of helping transform the education system in the next 10 years: “this is only the beginning of what we have planned”.

Image credit: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images

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