Top Hat Monocle, the Toronto-based provider of mobile-based classroom response systems, has decided to get Lasik and has dropped the ‘monocle’ from its name and logo. Top Hat, as the company will now be known, is celebrating this move with the launch of a redesigned corporate site at TopHat.com and, more importantly, it also switching to a freemium model where classes with fewer than 30 students can now use its tools for free.
The tool was always free for educators, but students had to pay $20 per semester to subscribe to the service. As Andrew D’Souza, Top Hat’s COO told me yesterday, the company decided to make this switch in order to accommodate a number of different scenarios. Many teachers, for example, want to adopt Top Hat in the middle of the semester but don’t want to have to ask their students to pay at that point. Some also just want to try it, but they don’t want their students to have to sign up and pay – especially if they aren’t sure that they’ll continue to use it. Top Hat is also seeing strong interest from teachers in K-12 schools and this switch should help them to use its tools, too. The 30-person limit, he told me, is meant to ensure that the company’s costs for offering the free service (mostly SMS fees), remain reasonable.
“Our goal is to put Top Hat in the hands of every student and teacher” D’Souza said in the announcement today. “With this new pricing model, we’re eliminating the barrier for instructors to give the platform a try in their class. We expect this to significantly accelerate the word-of-mouth-driven adoption we’re already seeing.”
As for the name change, D’Souza told me that for a mobile-first company, “Top Hat Monocle” was always a very long name. Half-jokingly, he also added that ‘monocle’ turned out to be hard to spell for many users. Quite a few people were already referring to the company as ‘Top Hat’ anyway and the team decided that the tool had enough brand recognition that making the switch wasn’t very risky.
Top Hat is currently being used in 350 universities worldwide.