EduCanon is one of Washington, D.C.’s fastest growing education technology stars. And for tech incubator 1776, the company could also be their smartest edtech investment.
Since being founded in June 2013, EduCanon has brought on more than 100,000 teachers and 1,000,000 registered users to their software platform—institutions using the product, locally, already include the D.C. public school system, Virginia Beach school district and Alexandria school district.
EduCanon’s technology is focused on customizing and tracking engagement with video content that K-12 students can review as class material. In essence, teachers can layer lessons, comments and other notes over videos, providing a piece of reference and context during assignments.
Led by 28-year-old CEO/founder Benjamin Levy, co-founder Swaroop Raju and co-founder Susan Germer, the startup was awarded $100,000 last year by winning the 1776 Global Challenge Cup Competition in the category of education and recently graduated from AT&T’s powerhouse edtech accelerator—the San Fransisco, Calif.-based Aspire Accelerator. A $50,000 investment from the San Fran accelerator and newly established Redwood City office followed.
After 2 years in business—and almost a year in the Valley participating in both the Aspire Accelerator and Stanford’s StartX program—the EduCanon team of less than ten plans their return to D.C. with grand ambitions and certain potential.
The Aspire Accelerator experience, Levy said, helped the company reach new clients via the organization’s network of investors and stakeholders. Between beginning the program and their graduation, EduCanon grew the amount of teachers accessing their platform from 50,000 to 100,000. In return for their guidance, the accelerator program typically takes up to a 5 percent equity stake in each company by investing $50,000 plus another $25,000 to cover living expenses.
According to Jacob Saperstein, AT&T’s director of social investment and innovation policy, “AT&T Aspire Accelerator participants have impacted more than 2,000,000 students, 200,000 teachers, and 4,500 schools throughout the United States.”
Over the next 6 months, the plan is to scale new EduCanon products beyond the K-12 classroom and to support a larger customer base, Levy told DC Inno, namely via higher education institutions and corporate training service providers. This is an expansion of the current customer base, and in the case of corporate partners, it’s a shift towards a different demographic and revenue source.
“We already boast inbound customers including CUNY, DePaul University and the University of Manchester in England,” Levy told DC Inno.
In a Forbes article that followed Levy being named as a “Forbes 30 under 30” innovator, earlier this year, in education, the publication described his business by saying that it enables teachers to “create their own Khan Academy, using videos as a learning tool.” That’s a bold claim, as the Khan Academy is one of the largest global, non-profit education organizations producing content. In essence, the Khan Academy develops free, online micro-lessons that have been watched millions of times, primarily through YouTube.
EduCanon is a 1776 member company, with a small satellite team currently using the space, today. But over the last year, the team has been primarily working in California, outside of their HQ. Regarding whether EduCanon will remain a D.C.-based company, Levy said “we plan on continuing our work out of 1776 and are excited to take advantage of as many opportunities as we can.”
At the moment, Levy said that his company is not actively seeking venture capital but rather, that they are “focusing on [the] revenue model.” With that being said, Levy and Raju have previously spoken with several angel investors that they say share a common vision for the social good that can be produced by edtech. Recently, EduCanon hired three new employees—two in sales and one in customer service.
“I expect, as our revenue scales, we’ll continue to expand in these two areas [sales and customer service], followed by development,” said the EduCanon CEO.
EduCanon’s products are divided into three tiers, Levy said. The first integrates their software into a district’s existing learning system. The second is an administrative dashboard to lead professional development and manage usage. And the third, is an on-going professional development service for teachers, focused on personalized training to help use and understand the data mined by the software.