ecree, a writing tool startup, to receive inaugural investment
HERNDON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–October 26, 2018–
Strategic Education, Inc. (SEI) announced today the launch of SEI Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund that will support pioneering education tech start-ups focused on transformational technologies and student success. In addition to providing capital, SEI Ventures will offer portfolio companies the opportunity to pilot technologies across its broad set of existing institutions, including Strayer University, Capella University, and coding boot camps.
“Our success in serving students depends on us being at the leading edge of innovation and digital advancement,” Karl McDonnell, CEO of SEI, said. “SEI Ventures gives us a platform to support entrepreneurs who can ultimately put better tools in the hands of our students to link their learning to professional and personal goals. It will serve as another source of innovation for the entire SEI family.”
SEI Ventures will make its first investment in ecree, an automated assessment tool that helps students improve their writing through real-time feedback on written assignments. The $500,000 investment will help ecree further develop its assessment capabilities and scale the offerings to more students in higher education. Strayer University students have had access to the ecree software since fall 2016. Initial results showed that the average grades in Strayer courses that incorporated ecree were noticeably higher than those courses that did not.
“Writing is a basic skill anyone needs to succeed – period, and yet it is shocking to see students struggle with basic writing tasks. ecree embodies our vision of equipping adult learners with this critical skill, and we look forward to supporting and watching ecree grow,” McDonnell said.
“We’re grateful for SEI Ventures’ investment that will help more students be better writers,” Jamey Heit, CEO of ecree, said. “ecree is reshaping how students write and how teachers experience instruction. We’re excited to partner with SEI Ventures through this investment as they help us improve our offerings so we can scale our business.”
As an early-stage investment fund, SEI Ventures aims to reshape the future of learning and work by supporting education technology entrepreneurs. Former Teach for America educator and McKinsey & Company consultant Terry McDonough will lead SEI Ventures as Managing Director. McDonough’s background in education and management strategy, coupled with his experience launching two new business units at SEI, will help guide SEI Ventures as it readies students for the 21st century workforce.
SEI Ventures plans to issue a formal request for higher education technology companies to apply for funding in 2019. When selecting companies to invest in, SEI Ventures will focus on the following criteria: improving teaching and learning through artificial intelligence and machine learning; removing friction from non-instructional student experiences; encouraging student persistence; and designing the future of work. More information about SEI Ventures’ focus areas can be found at www.seiventures.com.
About SEI Ventures:
SEI Ventures is a corporate-backed fund launched by Strategic Education, Inc. that invests in innovative startups to help them reach their full potential. Our investment in your business is more than just financial. When we commit to working with a company, we become partners and lend our full support to move the company forward. We provide founders a unique value. Our innovative start-ups can pilot products across our degree programs and our base of 80,000+ learners and students. The collective senior-level experience at Strategic Education, Inc. has helped a number of founders improve their products, accelerate their go-to-market activities and grow their businesses, and the creation of SEI Ventures formalizes this support and expertise.
Contact Terry McDonough, Managing Director of SEI Ventures, at Terry.McDonough@strategiced.com to learn more about SEI Ventures’ investment portfolio and latest success stories.
About Strategic Education, Inc.:
Strategic Education, Inc. (NASDAQ: STRA) is dedicated to enabling economic mobility through education. We serve students through a range of educational opportunities that include: Strayer University and Capella University (separate institutions that are each regionally accredited), which collectively offer flexible and affordable associate, certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs; a Top 25 Princeton Review-ranked online MBA program through the Jack Welch Management Institute; self-paced college-level, general education courses through Sophia; customized degrees for corporations through Degrees@Work; and non-degree web and mobile application development courses through DevMountain, Generation Code, Hackbright Academy, and The New York Code + Design Academy. These programs help our students prepare for success in today’s jobs and find a path to bettering their lives.
Strategic Education, Inc. (SEI)
Elaine Kincel, 202-557-4920