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1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Deborah Quazzo of GSV Ventures (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Aug 5th 2020

Sramana Mitra: Can I stop you there for a second? I have a few questions. You’re looking for free distribution to teachers and students and monetization through parents. How do teachers, students, and parents find out about the product?

Deborah Quazzo: It was a viral adoption. In the case of Class Dojo, it was seated amongst teachers. They develop certain champions within school buildings. It’s a product for K-8, not K-12, but it was very viral.

They did some intentional seeding with teachers who became passionate about the product and then virally had it adopted by their friends and partners and colleagues in the teaching profession. It’s been very low tech in that way.

Today, there are well over 50 million teachers, parents, and students using the product globally. What’s happening with COVID is as you would expect. The penetration within schools has dramatically increased where most every K-8 school has a teacher using the product.

With everyone going online now, the product gives a teacher a virtual platform to communicate with students, parents, and administrators. The penetration during the COVID period has been astronomical. It has been a viral adoption.

Sramana Mitra: Can we talk a bit about feeding such a viral adoption? In the entire history of technology bringing technology products to market, every innovator and entrepreneur has had to look for early adopters right?

In this case, we are looking for early adopter teachers who are dynamic and who are experimental and who like to experiment with new products. Is there a place where you go to find these early adopter teachers? Do you see that across companies? 

Deborah Quazzo: There are all kinds of teacher communities. Teachers interact a lot and they share lesson plans. Several companies do that. There’s a company called Teachers Pay Teachers, which is a platform for teachers paying each other for lesson plans for very low ticket prices.

There are lots of places where teachers aggregate. The company has developed over the steady march of teachers becoming digital natives since the company was founded ten years ago or so. That was the beginning of the generational move of teachers becoming digital natives.

The company has ridden that wave as well as several other things. Teachers are very communicative, very viral, and they are a whole series of aggregators. There are hundreds of them, probably thousands of places where teachers gather to exchange information, views, and lesson plans.

Sramana Mitra: We’ve done a few of these online-education-focused discussions and that point comes across every time. It is that there are online ways of accessing teachers and leveraging their viral ability to propagate information and they are digital natives and there are a lot of digital native teachers right now.

Deborah Quazzo: They have very strong opinions and in a good way. They’re very reliable in terms of being able to vet solutions. If your solution isn’t good, you’re going to probably get some pretty heavy negative feedback pretty quickly because teachers are very rigorous in the way that they consider things.

Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. Now you said you wanted to talk about Course Hero a bit?

Deborah Quazzo: Course Hero is in the higher education portion of the Pre-K-8 landscape. Course Hero was developed by Andrew Grauer in his dorm room at Cornell when he was trying to create a technology platform for students to exchange notes.

That group has grown into a very large business today. It has over half of the college students in the US and it has a very large market position outside of the US, particularly in English-speaking countries. He can have over half in many countries and that’s important because the higher education market is not growing here in the US.

In fact, it’s declining along with our demographics, but it’s growing very rapidly outside of the US in emerging markets. 

This segment is part 3 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Deborah Quazzo of GSV Ventures
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