Engrade was founded in 2003 with a high school student who wanted a much better approach to interact with teachers on homework, assessments, and messages. Through the years, user feedback and modern ideas have shaped Engrade in to a robust learning management system. Today, Engrade is a division of digital learning-focused CTB/McGraw-Hill and helps educators, parents, and students through all stages of the learning cycle from curriculum likely to assessments.
This week, Engrade position the finishing touches upon an emblematic story in the world of education startups. In 2003, high school student Bri Holt decided he’d heard enough griping from classmates (and teachers) over the absence of a simple, easy way to view their grades online. So, like any budding web developer, he chose to build that simple, engrade for his secondary school.
Whilst the product found a number of eager early customers among teachers and classmates, adoption wasn’t exactly explosive. So, because it goes, Holt soon graduated and progressed to other pursuits. Meanwhile, left to the own devices, the gradebook slowly and deliberately continued to attract frustrated teachers looking for an online grading solution. So, thinks kept snowballing.
By 2010, nearly seven years later, its user base had grown sizable enough that Holt felt justified to return to developing the item full-time. He made a decision to officially turn the gradebook in to a business and expand its functionality – what might later become Engrade .
Fast forward to this week, and publishing giant McGraw-Hill Education decided to purchase Holt’s online gradebook – now also known as login to engradewv – for which TechCrunch hears from sources was around $50 million. To education entrepreneurs, it’s an enviable outcome and a path (albeit perhaps not really a totally replicable one) worth emulation.
However, all in all, the process, from founding to sale, took over ten years. To some extent, it’s unsurprising considering that building and selling an education company (for just about any real return) takes years, maybe even decades. Obviously, should you build something that solves an issue and this your customer really needs, adoption and customer acquisition can come. Since it relates to education: Teachers agdwlr simple tools that will make their lives easier, and in case you build one on their behalf, and work with them to improve it, they’ll become your evangelists.
Ultimately, the acquisition is apparently a more-than-positive outcome for Engrade’s founders, its team along with its investors. The company had raised about $8 million total over two rounds, including from NewSchools Ventures, Zac Zeitlin, Expansion Venture Capital, Kapor Capital, Javelin Venture Partners, Rethink Education and Samsung Ventures, among others.