Startup Spotlight: Courseweaver
Courseweaver is in the process of raising a $4 million dollar round. With that, they plan to revolutionize the world of education.
Their new system is a cloud-based class, homework and testing solution that offers class templates, tools for exam creation, embedded textbook materials and more. With it, they expect to see busy professors no longer wasting time sifting through materials and no more students going broke spending more on books than tuition.
Gerd Kortemeyer, CSO, Co-Founder
Rob Fulk, CEO, Co-Founder
Problem being solved:
Put simply, Courseweaver wants to improve education. They want to reduce the complexity and costs of finding and buying course materials for students, and free up teachers to teach. “What’s out there is not innovative at all,” says Rob, “We are taking all those systems and making them electronic, creating a new landscape.” They are also taking steps to hold the content accountable, and track whether it’s working or not. “It’s really the next generation of learning platform.”
Where the idea came from:
It was originally developed by Drs. Gerd Kortemeyer and Wolfgang Bauer as an open-source and highly customizable platform to help meet the needs of teachers and students. CourseWeaver’s global platform is a new design, driven by the needs and feedback of a coalition of publishers and LON-CAPA users from leading US and international universities and K-12 schools.
Rob is excited that the system will have an impact on many different industries including publishing. It will help put independent authors on the same level as big publishers by allowing them to post and sell their content on the same platform. This will allow the market to decide what they want to buy, making it a bit like the iTunes of the publishing world.
Courseweaver wants to speak to anyone in the university or k-12 environment from the educators and students, to the administration. When dealing with colleges, though, the end beneficiary (the student) is not the purchaser. As a result, when it comes to what the product being purchased or content being published, they have to generate buy-in across a diverse group.
Rob says the sheer size of the program is a challenge in itself. It’s an entire learning environment that includes publishers, educators, students, universities and more. It covers sequencing, grading, analytics, content creation, etc. “And that scares some people,” says Rob, especially the companies and people who are trying to offer these things individually. He adds that it has also been a challenge recruiting talent and finding people with the skills they need.
They are in the process of raising a $4 million round that will help them hire more people and develop the next generation homework system.
Before this round they were primarily bootstrapped but also received pre-seed funding from Spartan Innovations.
After hiring the employees they need, the product will be about a year out. Then they will begin adopting more universities and by year 2 have around 20 employees. Year three’s goals are to have $20 million in revenue and a few hundred institutions on the new platform.
Rob’s advice to new entrepreneurs is, “Live as cheap as you can and bootstrap it.” He says the further you can take your business without involving others the more control you have and the more the more valuable the company is.
He also adds, quoting the show The Shark Tank, don’t be afraid of sales, it’s un-American. You can’t wait for everything to be perfect, just get out there.