Remind enters the payments space by letting parents pay for field trips with a credit card

We first covered Remind back in 2011, when it launched as a way for K-12 teachers to broadcast communications to a classroom full of parents. But over the past five years the company has evolved into an all-encompassing communication tool for teachers, parents and students in  over 75% of U.S school districts.

And all of this has been free for users – Remind has raised about $60M in funding which has allowed it to eschew profits and focus on just signing up as many schools as possible.

But today the company is taking a (slight) turn to monetization as it unveils Activities, a feature designed to let teachers collect payments from parents for school activities like field trips, sports uniforms, etc.

As co-founder and CEO Brett Kopf explained, most schools still rely on cash and envelopes to collect money for an average of 12 activities per student each year. This method is wildly disorganized, and probably the way you did it back when you were in lower school.

So Activities will let teachers create an activity, set a price, then notify parents so they can RSVP with payment and any required forms.

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The monetization element will come in the form of a 5 percent service fee paid by the parent, which after credit card processing fees will leave Remind with about 2.5 percent per transaction in revenue.

The startup ran a beta period of Activities where $1,000,000 was requested by teachers for about 10,000 different activities (field trip, fundraisers, etc). But this was mostly during the summer, and Remind expects both these numbers to balloon as soon as the school year starts in a couple of weeks.

And while not every Activity has to involve a payment (meaning Remind will still provide the organizational functionality of Activity to teachers planning free events), it’s not hard to imaging at least a dozen use cases a year where a teacher could use this to streamline payments between the home and the classroom.

Parents will be able to pay for an Activity by providing their credit card in Remind’s mobile or web app, or via a browser link if they choose to use Remind’s SMS-based service.

So what makes this better than PayPal or Venmo or any other established payment provider? Mainly the fact that so many parents and teachers already use Remind on a daily basis to communicate. It would be hard to convert an entire of classroom of parents to a “new” service like Venmo, but if they are already using Remind to check their child’s homework every night, why not just ask them to quickly enter their credit card?

And though this isn’t monetization in the traditional sense of offering a new paid tier of service, it could still provide a steady stream of revenue for the startup, especially if parents and teachers become dependent on using Activities to eliminate cash from the equation.