Can Edmodo Change Education? Index Ventures Thinks So

EdmodoLogo

Led by CEO Crystal Hutter, edtech startup Edmodo looks to change the educational experience of schools all over the world. A recent injection of $30 million in funding could help them get there.

By Jake Guidry (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

Beneath the surface of the world’s most mainstream social networking services — your Facebooks, your Twitters, etc. — lie myriad tech companies trying to offer a tailored networking experience for a niche community.

Crystal HutterThere’s Soundcloud for musicians and Goodreads for book lovers, just to name a couple. Perhaps one of the most useful and potentially impactful of these growing social networks is Edmodo, an educational platform led by CEO Crystal Hutter. Hutter, who joined Edmodo in 2010 and was named CEO in March 2013, will be tasked with bringing the company to new heights following a $30 million round of funding led by Index Ventures.

Founded in Chicago in 2008 by Jeff O’Hara and Nic Borg, Edmodo is a free network for educators and students (and their parents) to collaborate and enhance the learning experience: It’s a platform where quizzes can be administered, study groups can be formed and schedules can be made, just to name a few of its uses.

“The largest iceberg in the route from idea to effect is that most innovations do not adequately leverage or empower the part of the equation that has the most influence on student outcomes: the teacher,” said Hutter in a recent blog post on EdTech Digest. “At my company, we believe that the route must go straight through the teacher, and that edtech investments are best focused on helping teachers personalize learning for their students.”

Among Edmodo’s touted features are Snapshot, a free “micro-assessment” tool built directly into Edmodo, and a marketplace for third-party apps, which provides depth to its service. The edtech startup, which is now based in San Mateo, Calif., currently has 36.3 million users across more than 220,000 schools. The recent $30 million injection could even further accelerate a userbase that has grown essentially 100 percent in the last 18 months, according to TechCrunch.

The Index Ventures-led round of funding, which comes more than two years after Edmodo’s most recent funding in 2012, results in a total of $87 million raised by the company to date. Index’s decision to invest, according to its own Mike Volpi, resulted from identifying key characteristics in Edmodo’s platform:

“[T]here are three models that we love the most: businesses that are marketplaces, businesses with network effect and businesses that become platforms for an ecosystem. In Edmodo, we see an opportunity for all three of these models in a sector that has fundamentally been a technology laggard.”

Edmodo’s place in education could dramatically and positively affect education as a whole, especially if it becomes more widely adopted (though 36 million users is nothing to snuff at). As Volpi indicated, Index Ventures sees Edmodo’s potential, but it’s also up to educators to see what the company can truly do.

How else do you envision education startups changing the classroom?

JakeGuidry

About the author: Jake Guidry is a freelance writer and DJ living in Chicago. His passions are craft beer, baseball and making people dance. Follow him on Twitter at @jakeguidry.