Idaho-based education software provider Silverback Learning Solutions announced a new round of funding today, adding $2.5 million from a collection of angel investors to help fuel its continued expansion. The new cash will help Silverback’s Mileposts platform achieve greater exposure across more of the U.S., according to CEO Dr. Jim Lewis, and will help it speed up the process of executing its product roadmap by adding additional partner integrations.
For Lewis, the time is exactly right for a solution that can meet the needs of parents, educators and students and does so in a way that’s easy to understand, use and follow. When asked about the state of the education software market, which in many ways seems more fractured than ever now that new startups are vying with some of the few technology solutions in the space that have gained any real traction, he said that Silverback is aware of this problem, and that’s why they’ve taken a different approach to building product from most.
“The platform was truly built by educators and teachers in-district to solve for a problem that needed to be solved for the district in order to personalize every student’s education in the classroom,” Lewis said. “Being built in a school district, we knew we couldn’t afford to over-engineer. We put the software engineers together with a committee of educators and told them “If you can’t build what these teachers and administrators need and will use you won’t have a job for very long.”
This approach to building the platform differs considerably from that of other companies, especially new ones, trying to tackle the education market, according to Lewis. Most Silicon Valley-based competitors treat the endeavor more like they would any other product, in terms of their development cycles, and he says that’s the wrong approach to take in this specific case.
“Startups in the Silicon Valley tend to build products with a fast-as-possible, “rapid prototype/rapid iteration” approach. Silverback’s beginnings was really the opposite,” he said. “As found in any emerging market, we understand the increasing number of new companies and technologies can also create ‘solution confusion’, which is why we are especially excited to demonstrate our decade of partnership in educator collaboration… and product innovation.”
This round will mean that Silverback can push Milestones more effectively through accredited national distribution networks like the Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA). Lewis says approval by these kinds of organizations is hard to come by, but now that Silverback has it, they’ll be able to more quickly and effectively get set up in AESA member schools with the new resources.
Silverback’s funders in this round include all of its existing board members. ATA Ventures co-founder and partner Pete Thomas participated as a personal investor, and Lewis says all of Silverback’s investors, who were also involved in the company’s $900,000 Series A round back in 2012, were chosen because they “buck the trend of VCs seeking a ‘cash-out'” and are truly invested in the process of helping educators with better tools.