Chalkable Brings Apps, including Khan Academy Math, to Classrooms
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school can try out the service for free before committing to paying for the service. Chalkable also takes a 30 percent cut of the revenue that developers generate from app sales through the platform.
Co-founded in 2010 by Honig and longtime friend Michael Levy, Chalkable was born out of their shared frustration using education platforms such as Angel Learning and Blackboard in college. Honig says the interface could be more user-friendly. He and Levy also believe K-12 schools, in particular, can benefit from an updated way to discover and access apps. “There were learning tools not being used in the classroom because it’s hard to find and pay for them,” Honig says. “Teachers don’t have the time.”
A large hurdle, he says, is the purchase order procedure—involving sending documents back and forth between a buyer and a seller—many schools use to acquire academic material. That kind of bureaucracy conflicts with many online order systems, which require credit cards for immediate payments. Chalkable’s platform rectifies that issue by accepting purchase orders, as well as credit cards, and giving educators different ways to make those online app purchases.
In addition to managing apps, the platform can be used by administrators and teachers to set up calendars, assign homework, and send alerts to students. Academic performance trends and analytics in the schools can also be gathered, with consent, for review by parents and administrators.
Chalkable launched a public beta of the platform in January with a handful of schools. Now the two-year-old company is eager to serve 50 schools, its first big test since emerging from the 500 Startups accelerator. The company is also in talks with publishers of education material to distribute their content through the platform, but Honig says it is too early to disclose names.
He confesses that entering 500 Startups was not part of the original plan to scale up Chalkable. Honig and Levy were exploring a seed round in the spring of 2011. However, Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups, compelled Chalkable to hold off on the seed round, pursue a small advisory round instead, and join his accelerator program. Honig says Chalkable secured $200,000 in the advisory round and now his company is in the midst of raising a $1 million round.
If Chalkable can build on its momentum, Honig says his company can be a conduit for education app makers to reach more schools and tap into this potentially lucrative market. “Once we make that first sale we’re able to open the doors for developers,” he says.