Like many working parents, ClassTag’s founder and CEO, Vlada Lotkina, wanted to become more involved in her daughter’s preschool education. A paper notice about an upcoming field trip, squeezed between messed up folders in a backpack, begging for smart technology around parent-teacher communication, she recalls.
Lotkina turned to other parents in the preschool classroom and found similar stress. So, she teamed up with a fellow parent, Jason Olim, to launch ClassTag, a free parent-teacher communication platform that supports more than 60 languages.
Today, the company announced that it has raised $ 5 million in seed financing from a group of investors including Alecorp, Contour Ventures, Founder Collective, John Martinson, Newark Venture Partners, Smart Hub and TMT Investment. The platform says that it has grown to 2 million users in 25,000 schools in the United States.
ClassTag has two end users: parents and teachers. Parents can use the classtag for information about events, field trips, funds and more. For teachers, ClassTeg is an easy way to connect with parents, parent-teacher conferences, and share resources. Additionally, teachers can see on a parent engagement dashboard which families are more engaged, and which may require additional ping or attention.
With the classtag, parents can receive email, without downloading the app, in their favorite channel via email, SMS, app, web, or even paper if they are completely offline. Any announcement or message will be automatically translated into many languages.
The company makes money by advertising educational and family-friendly companies on ClassTag. In general, an EdTech platform that pumps out advertisements can be a concern for parents, but because the ClassTag is not a platform for children, it is less controversial. ClassTag states that it does not share personally identifiable information with advertisers, but does share aggregate general data, such as whether certain users are in certain grades or special zip codes.
A portion of the income from brand revenue is also donated to classrooms for supplies. The company describes this brand relationship as “advertisers’ advertising vs. brand becoming”.
The simplicity of the platform is stressed by ClassTag’s other goal of ensuring access to any parent regardless of socio-economic class or work schedule. Even though the digital divide has shrunk slightly, fewer socioeconomic families may struggle with digital access beyond their phones. A parent who does an hourly job may, therefore, have access to the text via email.
Another platform that seeks to digitize classroom communication is ClassDojo, a communication platform for children, students and parents. ClassDojo is used by 95% of schools in the United States.
Lotkina states that ClassDojo focuses more on the behavioral aspect of children. ClassDojo, for example, gives teachers points to help children make parents aware of behavior, and focuses on classroom busyness and management. The ClassTag, by contrast, focuses more on information dissemination.
Lotkina, who is originally from Ukraine, started at the age of 17 in the startup world. She traveled to Western Europe selling Western designers from a catalog. She then applied to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, accepted and moved to the United States. She says that starting a company in the United States is easier than in Ukraine because investors in banking companies are profitable before risk.
“On top of that, there is clearly a lot of corruption and regulatory pressure that exists in Ukraine and many other countries. Unfortunately, building an influential business that solves a real problem is successful in countries like Ukraine. Is not enough, ”Lotkina said in a moderate post.
Two million users, and a fresh $ 5 million in funding later, Lotkina’s choice so far is very good.