Ah, back to school season. For some, late August conjures happy memories of new outfits, organized pencil pouches, and fresh composition notebooks ready to be filled with doodles. For others (we’re guessing you’re a college senior, a tired parent or teacher, or a school administrator…), perhaps this time of year fills you with some looming feeling of anxiety. But never fear! Beyond the school supply aisles of your local big box store, there’s an entire (and super fast-growing) industry dedicated to easing those fears. According to EdSurge, US education technology startups raised $1.85 billion in 2015, and Southern innovators are not missing out. These 11 companies have launched innovative digital solutions to help everyone from the kindergarten classroom to the university board pass with flying colors in 2016.
1. Raleigh-based Lea(R)n helps educators, schools, and districts make data-driven decisions about which of the nearly 20,000 education technologies on the market to use in their classrooms. The SaaS platform allows teachers to weigh in on what works and helps schools save time on piloting new edtech by accessing reports on usage, efficacy, and cost. Lea(R)n raised $800K last year and is also a Kaplan Techstars grad, a 2014 NC Technology Company of the Year, and an NC IDEA winner.
2. A graduate of the 2014 RevTechLabs Accelerator, SKoolAide is a Charlotte-based startup that uses social and rewards-based motivation to help students improve their academic performance. Once students input their personal learning styles and interests into the platform, SKoolAide provides a personal pathway, including test and homework prep tools and college guides, that helps students achieve specific goals. Their accomplishments can then be shared with friends, parents, or teachers, and used to gain tangible rewards.
3. If your child or student plays educational iPad games, but you have no idea what (or if) they’re actually learning, check out Nashville-based Kodiak Learning, an analytics and recommendation platform for educational apps. Parents, teachers, and schools can track a student’s digital learning progress, get notified of important milestones and trends, and see which apps are the best fit for a particular student or classroom. The company launched during SXSW 2012 and is a Nashville Entrepreneur Center member.
4. Also based in Nashville, LiveSchool helps teachers and schools track, reward, and improve student behavior. Their real-time web and mobile dashboards allow teachers across multiple classrooms to create behavior categories (think, “above and beyond,”), communicate feedback to students and parents, and award points that translate into tangible rewards. LiveSchool has raised $2.4M since founding in 2011.
5. Miami-based Clutch Prep makes studying easier through video guides that follow a student’s actual course textbook. The platform has a library of over 50,000 hours of tutoring and has helped over 56K college students at 50 major schools across the US. Founded in 2011, Clutch Prep is a 2014 TechStars Chicago grad with backing from 500 Startups.
6. Another Miami success is NearPod, an app that lets teachers deliver digital lessons to students right on their mobile devices, during class. Educators can create or download interactive presentations, share with the class and control student’s activity in real-time, and monitor both student and classroom-wide results. The company has raised $9.2M and ranked #297 on this year’s Inc. 5000 list (#8 in the education category).
7. Founded in 2012, Skubes in an Atlanta startup that helps teachers create math, science, and language arts videos, quizzes, and other resources for K-12 students. Teachers can create a playlist or study block that can be assigned to specific students or an entire class. The platform is used by school districts across the US.
8. Created by UCF students and alum, Orlando-based Schoolflow lets college students automate their homework management. Students login with their university information and Schoolflow syncs assignment deadlines, quizzes, grades, and a calendar view of the semester in just seconds. A graduate of Orlando’s StarterStudio accelerator, Schoolflow was recently selected for FireSpring Fund’s first mentorship program and inked a partnership with UCF to license their campus collaboration tool for a re-launch this fall.
9. Based in New Orleans, SmartCoos is the first complete, interactive language learning program for kids 0-8. Launched in 2014, the platform provides individual and group lessons, baby sign language tools, foreign language eBooks, and scheduled text “nudges” with words and phrases of the day. The startup is a 4.0 Schools graduate and has been featured in EdSurge and Forbes.
10. Founded by a Georgia Tech alum, Atlanta-based Wokoy offers a comprehensive matching service for tutors and students at colleges across the US. Students can find a tutor who has taken the class they are currently in, or sign up to tutor other students in classes they’ve already taken. The app features a rating system that helps students choose a tutor that best fits their needs and price range.
11. Launched in 2015, Erdos is a Clemson, SC startup on a mission to help students ace the math portion of the SAT. Their SAT review platform is powered by artificial intelligence; students answer practice questions and if they answer incorrectly, Erdos uses machine learning and follow-up questions to help them figure out their error. Check out the beta here.
There you have it. We hope you’ll give these Southern innovations more than an A for effort, and if you know of other star (entrepreneurial) students in our region, please share with us on Twitter!
Photo credit: SmartCoos