When educators evaluate which education technology (edtech) tools to use to boost student success, they have many to consider. The options can be overwhelming and the market lacked a wealth of unbiased third-party data to back products up—until LearnPlatform came on the scene around five years ago.
The Raleigh-based startup, which will be presenting at CED’s Venture Connect Summit (March 17-19), came to fruition under CEO Karl Rectanus. Rectanus, a former educator and administrator, had become a consultant working with school districts, product providers and venture capitalists. [Editor’s Note: We featured Rectanus in a Download Q&A last April.]
“There was a consistent question for all of them about which ed tech tools we should be using, which ones were best for us,” Rectanus said. “There was no data; it was all custom research. I realized that educators are constantly trying these different tools, and there’s got to be a better way to help inform decisions around which tools can work.”
LearnPlatform took a research-based approach in creating a learning platform that helps school districts organize the information on all of the products they are using, while streamlining many processes like contract management and teachers’ requests for tools.
With information on over 7,000 different education technology products, LearnPlatform is essentially a TripAdvisor for edtech tools, Rectanus said. Educators can share their experiences using a product while district administrators can set up their product libraries, label whether teachers have access to a product or not and manage contracts.
The last layer to LearnPlatform is its analytics IMPACT technology, allowing for a third-party evaluation and visualization of how products helped students.
“We do this because we have a mission towards expanding equitable access,” Rectanus said. “If there’s no data or it’s difficult to find data, that actually expands the digital divide. It means that those who can afford to do their own research can do so, but everybody else gets left behind. So by democratizing access, by creating a platform that can make it easier to understand what’s working for which students, we can expand access to the teaching and tools that work best for them.”
Having raised between $5 and $6 million from a range of investors, including Emerson Collective and New Markets Venture Partners, LearnPlatform is well on its way to achieving its mission. The number of educators, districts, and states using its research-driven technology more than doubled since 2018, now approaching 7,000 schools serving over 3 million students in paid subscriptions.
In these subscriptions, states and school districts can subscribe to one or many modules on LearnPlatform’s system and pay annually based on number of students and modules. The cost ranges from under a dollar to $4 per student, and Rectanus said most school districts see a 9-12 times return on their investment.
“Our business model is directly aligned with our mission,” Rectanus said. “So the more we grow, the more students and educators we help make better decisions for what’s working best for students.”
As LearnPlatform gears up for its presentation at Venture Connect, Rectanus is excited to engage with other entrepreneurs who demonstrate the excellence in the Triangle tech ecosystem. Rectanus moved back to North Carolina over a decade ago from California, and he said North Carolina and Raleigh have grown so much.
“This region has gotten bigger shoulders in the entrepreneurship space,” said Rectanus. “I’m super-excited to see all the great stuff, all the great leaders and entrepreneurs. I’m excited that we’re putting North Carolina on the map for other investors to recognize that the real job creators are in this high-growth space.”
LearnPlatform will be presenting Tuesday, March 17 in Ballroom A/B at Venture Connect.