It is well known that a good education is a main pillar for the future of any society. Moreover, redesigning the educational systems around innovation and entrepreneurship could prove to be a long-term solution which will get us out of the difficult economical situation that most of the countries are facing. The story that I will share with you today is exactly about these three magic words: innovation, education and start-ups. And this is how it goes.
What if teachers worldwide would have a very intuitive tool that helps them take a snapshot of the students’ performance? What if this is made by using technology like tablets or smartphones which are accessible to everyone nowadays? What if this tool was created by creative thinkers who are passionate about education and want to deliver the best user experience to teachers and students? Well, this is possible thanks to Socrative, a Boston-based startup launched in 2011, which already has 450.000 teachers registered and attracts more than 40.000 new ones each month. During his last visit in Boston, Fréderic Lasnier, the CEO of Pentalog Group, had a detailed conversation2 with Benjamin Berté, the CEO and co-founder of Socrative, the startup that is innovating the future of education right next to Pentalog USA office at CIC.
The Socrative platform provides a formative assessment of the classroom, thanks to the real-time questioning that the teacher addresses to the students. The goal of this snapshot is for the teacher to understand how the whole class is performing, in order to take decisions that will improve not only his teaching skills, but also the entire learning experience. The cross-platform application (iOS, Android, Microsoft, all browsers) is intended to be part of a more complex system which will offer a 360 degree view of the students’ performance during the life-long learning process.
There are at least three aspects about Socrative, that are worth your attention: the story, the traction and the current challenges.
A startup cannot become a great one unless it is created with and from passion. Benjamin, with a 4-year background in a corporate environment, realized that his true passion was teaching, because education is the great equalizer that gives a chance to every student, regardless of his situation, to do something with their lives. So this is what he did: he taught in several European countries, in Chile and for some years in the US. He got a Harvard graduate degree in Education and he met his co-founder, Amit Maimon, an MIT Sloan Business School graduate, with whom he had the idea of using the technology existing in common devices like tablets and phones in order to create a more enjoyable and exciting classroom experience.
3 years after its launch, Socrative is currently being used in more than 100 countries, facing great traction and consistent growth in the last year when it quadrupled its daily number of users from 40.000 to 170.000 teachers and students each day. The growth comes viral, teachers telling other teachers about the tool. And Benjamin is very confident that it will continue to grow as technology faces no barriers in entering the education sector in order to solve the existing problems.
What are the key success factors that create this traction? Knowing the education field very well allowed the team to understand the pain of the users and to design a solution from the teacher’s perspective. Problems like the lack of time, engaging the students, sharing materials with others are common among the teachers. Socrative helps them be more effective, by bringing important gains with a minimum effort to invest in using this tool.
But traction brings new challenges for a startup. Technology can be effective and scalable, but this is not an easy task. Scaling and the need to redesign the application in order to create a great experience are two of the challenges that Socrative is facing nowadays. The new version developed in Django deals with the scaling load, but the small team, despite being very good at what they do, is looking for talented people3 to help them bring this valuable tool to hundreds of thousands and, why not, millions of users each day. Only in the US the addressable market is made of 3.6 million teachers and 50 million students!
Besides the technical skills needed for the Django scaling and the Front-End development, Socrative wants communicative and creative team members to challenge their vision and make suggestions, to have a WHY-centered way of thinking: Why are they building Socrative? Are they building it correctly? What is the purpose of this tool? What do the teachers and students think about it? And last, but not least, Benjamin and his team are interested in different cultural point of views which will help them design an international tool that addresses specific educational systems.
Do you find this interesting? Wait, there is more. As mentioned earlier, Socrative is a neighbor of Pentalog USA office at Cambridge Innovation Center in Boston, a collaborative environment where hundreds of start-ups and entrepreneurs generate and share ideas that help solving problems from various domains: business, healthcare, education, personal life. With an international exposure and easily accessible from everywhere, Boston is the most important educational hub in the US (Harvard, MIT, research institutions), where young people with new ideas have pushed the old education tradition into the new era. Fréderic also revealed several timesPentalog: because we are excited to work with entrepreneurs and start-ups which challenge us to be more innovative in our way of thinking, to design software solutions that better suit the needs of small companies, to be involved in shaping the future.
So if you believe that Socrative can be the next tool to improve the educational systems worldwide and you are ready to be part of something that matters, then let’s get in touch and talk more about it.