SM: Can you tell me more about the content you developed?
RP: It is highly interactive and very rigorous. It is very high quality. We thought through everything a child should know from kindergarten to 12th grade to prepare him or her for anything they want to be in this world. Nobody has thought of it from that perspective before. It has all kinds of flash pieces to help promote the concept.
SM: Is there a teacher or proctor who takes the student through this content?
RP: A lot of it is self-paced. We employ teachers to take kids through content and help them when they are struggling.
SM: Is this classroom-based, or do students work on this on their own time?
RP: In the virtual world, they can work on it anywhere and anytime they like.
SM: What is the most successful application of this model you have seen, in the classroom or elsewhere?
RP: K-8 seems to be self-learning but high school seems to be classroom sessions. It is hard to say because it is a mixture.
SM: How long did it take you to build the content?
RP: We started nine years ago, and we continue to build it today.
SM: How long did it take you to get to an alpha or beta version of content?
RP: We went to market with K-2 in the fall of 2001, so you could say 18 months for that.
SM: Who were the early adopters of this?
RP: Families who were not happy with their current schooling option. They were willing to commit to having their kids do this from home.
SM: So you sold it directly to consumers?
RP: The public schools are legal entities, not brick-and-mortar buildings. We were not selling to existing brick-and-mortar schools.
SM: How big is the market of online entities?
RP: It is still growing and grows dramatically every year. There is the potential for this to be a multi-billion dollar industry.
SM: In 2001 when you raised financing, how many entities were there for you to market to?
RP: The market was very small. Most were formed when we formed the company. This did not exist much before us.
SM: It almost seems as though you are creating a franchise around you without using your brand.
RP: In some ways it is our brand as well. If you are enrolled in the California Virtual School, you will see K12 in the online systems. We are building a brand that way. We are now in the top 1,800 most visited sites on the web. K12 is definitely becoming a brand.
SM: Yet the legal entity is not yours.
RP: Correct. By law it cannot be. It must be an independent, not-for-profit entity.
SM: And the not-for-profit entities get their money from the state, which is how you make your money?
RP: Correct. They contract us to provide curriculum and technology services.