Brightwheel, a mobile communication platform for early education, is launching today with $2.2 million in seed funding to provide both teachers and parents of young children with peace of mind.
The oversubscribed seed round was led by RRE Ventures and Eniac Ventures, with participation from CrossLink Capital, Golden Venture Partners, Red Swan Ventures and Sherpa Ventures.
Brightwheel has built a mobile app that teachers can use for daily record keeping, communication with parents, and payment collection. Ideally, teachers can spend less time recording details, while parents receive regular updates about their children.
By law, preschool teachers are required to log attendance, activity, and bodily fluids for students under the age of five — a process that’s currently conducted, for the most part, with pen and paper.
“You’ll have three different teachers looking for the right piece of paper to write all of these things down, and that paper goes home with the parent who looks at it once and recycles it,” says Dave Vasen, founder of Brightwheel.
On top of that, preschool education is entirely private, which means many teachers have to deal with running a business after students leave at the end of the day.
“Anytime you find a business that still uses paper, email and Excel to run their core processes, there’s generally a pretty big opportunity,” says Steve Schlafman of RRE, who led the round for Brightwheel.
Pre-Kindergarten education is a $45 billion dollar market in the U.S. alone, with over 12 million children enrolled.
“The classic case you hear from parents of children above age two is, you ask what your child did that day and you get nothing — you get ‘I played with Billy,’” says Vasen.
“The moments where parents can get involved in their child’s education — like at the dinner table, or in the car ride home — are lost because the parents don’t know what’s going on during the day,” he says.
By improving communication between parents and teachers, Brightwheel aims to solve this problem. They’ve already started rolling out the platform in a small group or schools (a hundred or so) across 30 states.
Vasen says his goal is to be in every preschool, daycare, and after-school program in the U.S., serving as the point of connectivity between teachers, parents, and students. The app is currently free, but in the future, schools will have the option to pay a monthly fee for additional features and services.