Ron Conway, Paul Graham Back Gamification Education Startup ClassDojo

San Francisco-based startup ClassDojo has launched out of beta an announced it has raised $1.6 million in seed funding. The company, which says it already has 3.5 million teacher and student members on its site, helps teachers manage student behavior using game mechanics. Investors include Paul Graham of Y Combinator, Ron Conway of SV Angel, Jeff Clavier of SoftTechVC, Kapor Capital, the Start Fund, General Catalyst, Morado Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Learn Capital, NewSchools Venture Fund and other individual investors.

PRESS RELEASE

World’s Fastest Growing Education Startup, ClassDojo, Launches Out of Beta; Announces $1.6 million in Funding To Build Students’ Character Strengths and Improve Behavior

3.5 million teachers and students across 30 countries are now using the service to solve the ‘other half of education’

SAN FRANCISCO – August 15, 2012 – Today ClassDojo, the first free digital character building and behavior management service for teachers, is officially launching out of beta and announcing $1.6 million in seed funding from some of the most well known start-up investors in the world. The company is also announcing exciting milestones including viral growth to more than 3.5 million teachers and students in more than 30 countries in just 10 months, solidifying its place as the fastest growing education company ever.

Co-founders Sam Chaudhary and Liam Don, who were part of the inaugural cohort of ImagineK12 – described as the “Y-Combinator for education technology” – created the service after interviewing hundreds of teachers who reported behavior as their biggest problem in the classroom. Forty percent of U.S. teachers say they spend more than 50% of their time managing behavior rather than teaching, which as Chaudhary explains is “half an instructional year lost, with no teaching or learning taking place.” What’s more, the duo found teachers unhappy that behavior had become about discipline, obedience and punishment. For many teachers, and for Chaudhary and Don – themselves former educators and ed-tech PhD candidates – this did not sit well.

Enter ClassDojo: the company helps teachers build specific positive learning behaviors with their students and grow essential character strengths, such as persistence, creativity, curiosity, self-control and leadership.

“There’s this whole other half of education that is currently unaddressed by education technology; the half that goes beyond just building good test scores to building character strengths that are essential for lifetime success,” says Chaudhary. “There’s 40 years of academic research, as well as practical evidence from some of the best-performing schools in the country, that when you build character and behavioral skills it leads to two to four times the improvement in academic results, graduation rates, health outcomes and other socioeconomic measures. However, ed-tech hasn’t given this space the same level of rigor and data-driven tools that we currently see for academic content. Behavior is the first step to building these broader character strengths.”

How ClassDojo works:
To get started, all that teachers have to do is create a free account at www.classdojo.com, add their students’ names and customize the behaviors they want to encourage. During class, teachers can reinforce positive behavior by awarding students in real-time with feedback points using any computer, tablet or smartphone; these feedback points are instantly displayed in the classroom with audio-visual cues. ClassDojo automatically compiles this data into analytics reports, allowing teachers to monitor progress, track trends and share information with parents. In addition, students can reflect on their own behavior and track their progress. To date over 50 million such feedback points have been given.

Teachers are seeing incredible results from kindergarten to high school. A nationwide survey of ClassDojo users showed a 45% – 90% increase in incidents of positive behavior and a 50% – 85% decrease in incidents of negative behavior. Jed Dearybury, a 2nd grade teacher in Spartanburg, South Carolina had this to say: “ClassDojo completely transformed my classroom. As I implemented it midyear, the focus became positive reinforcement because of ClassDojo’s easy, user-friendly style of displaying and rewarding positive behaviors of my choice. The class became so positive and compassionate to one another that we became known as the ‘Class of Encouragers!’ I cannot wait to start back so I can use this wonderful, free, online tool for the benefit of my students.”

The company has seen tremendous viral adoption with 10% week-on-week growth at the end of its first year, culminating in over 3.5 million teachers and students using the free service. The user base is distributed across every state and just as impressively, in more than 30 countries worldwide. Thousands of new teachers are adopting the platform daily, as a direct result of teachers spreading ClassDojo by word-of-mouth. This pattern and pace of consumer-style growth is unprecedented in education technology.

ClassDojo has not only caught the attention of teachers, but of high-profile investors as well. The company is announcing seed funding of $1.6 million from the same visionaries who backed high-growth companies in other sectors such as, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Airbnb. ClassDojo’s investors include: Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator (a personal investment); Ron Conway at SV Angel; Jeff Clavier at SoftTech VC; Kapor Capital; Start Fund; General Catalyst; Morado Ventures; Lerer Ventures; Joe Greenstein, CEO of Flixster; Matt Ocko; Jason Citron, founder of OpenFeint; Roger Dickey, founder of MafiaWars; Tabreez Verjee, Founding Partner of Impact at Scale; David Jeske, founder of Neotonic; NewSchools Venture Fund and Learn Capital.

ClassDojo is free for teachers, and the company is dedicated to always keeping it that way.

To start using ClassDojo, visit: http://www.classdojo.com

To see what teachers are saying about ClassDojo, visit: http://www.classdojo.com/love

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