Remind today announced that it has passed 20 million monthly active users and has named Brian Grey as CEO. The education app provides secure messaging for teachers, students, and parents at more than 50 percent of the approximately 100,000 public schools in America and recently added payments processing to its platform. Grey was formerly CEO of sports media site Bleacher Report.
Remind has soared to 35 million total users in the five years since its founding. Initially, the company tackled the pain point of communications between teachers, parents, and students — from kindergarten through high school. Instead of misplaced fliers and unread emails, Remind offers an SMS platform for teachers to send out homework assignments, remind students of upcoming deadlines and tests, and communicate with parents. Just last month, the company began offering Activities, a feature to collect and process payments (via Stripe) for everything from field trips to club dues. During testing, the company handled 10,000 activities and processed about $1 million worth of payments, from which it takes a 5 percent fee.
“Since its release just a few weeks ago, we’ve seen a 4x increase in the number of activities posted,” Grey said of the Activities feature in an email interview with VentureBeat. “We think there’s huge opportunity here: Every school has hundreds, if not thousands of activities each year. Things like field trips and team uniforms, athletic boosters and PTA fundraisers, school dances and yearbook sales — the list is endless. Right now, each of the logistics and payments of these types of activities is handled with cash, checks, and paper permission slips. We’re solving a real, large-scale problem with this product.”
The expanding role of technology in the classroom is perhaps the biggest change affecting education today. With 55 million students just starting a new school year, Remind is not the only startup seeing an opportunity to propel change. Pluralsight, Google Classroom, TutorGroup and MathCrunch are just some of the other companies in this market. But Remind seems to have distinguished itself and won over teachers and administrators with a nearly maniacal focus on putting customer needs first.
“The digital transformation of education within the K-12 space is a powerful theme that is still in its very early stages,” Grey said. “Our deep focus and partnership with teachers ensures that we deliver a communication platform that connects every K-12 teacher to their students, parents, and schools.” He added that the service’s ease-of-use “ensures that we deliver on our important goal of universal accessibility in the context of education’s digital evolution.”
Remind was founded by brothers David and Brett Kopf, who credit high school teacher Denise Whitefield as one of their inspirations. Whitefield played a very active role in helping Brett address his learning disabilities, graduate from high school, and go on to Michigan State University. (Brett previously served as CEO of Remind.)
Grey shares the brothers’ passion for teachers. “Education has always been central to my personal life, starting with the fact that my parents were both school teachers. My mother taught kindergarten for over 25 years, and my dad taught high school for 30 years,” he said. “My sister is currently a 7th grade teacher, as well, going on 20 years. As a family, we’re approaching a century of experience as educators.”
Underpinning Remind’s growth is what Grey calls a “learning graph,” the mapped connections between everyone in the education community, including teachers, students, parents, and administrators. As CEO, Grey will leverage those connections to make Remind even more valuable to its users. “The go-forward approach really boils down to three factors: continuing to develop the best representation of the learning graph, making communication as efficient as possible between all parties, and building the services that people in K-12 schools need inside and outside of the classroom.”
Remind has more than 70 employees and is based in San Francisco. The company has raised $59.5 million in funding from investors, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Social Capital.
Disclosure: Brian Grey is an advisor to VentureBeat.