TenMarks, Education Software Startup, Looks to Improve Kids’ Math Skills as Summer Beckons

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focused on the education market—including 8D World, peerTransfer, Boundless Learning, Socrative, College Miner, Learning Unlimited, and Alleyoop, to name a few. The company has a team of about 30 people, and has been backed by angel investors to date (including Jean Hammond, who serves on the board). Down the road, Joseph says, the TenMarks team might branch out to other subjects besides math, such as grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and physical sciences.

But for now, they have their hands full with math lessons. It’s an interesting—and perhaps unlikely—sector for Joseph and his fellow co-founder, Rohit Agarwal, a tech veteran who has worked at companies like CommercialWare (where he first met Joseph in 1999) and Webify Solutions (acquired by IBM).

In fact, the genesis of TenMarks was when Agarwal’s niece received a C in math class. “An Indian doesn’t get a C in math,” was Agarwal’s response. It turned out his niece didn’t want to go back and correct what she was doing wrong in previous chapters. Meanwhile, Joseph’s kids were in grade school and middle school, and he was wrestling with the idea of hiring a math tutor or doing after-school programs. Together, Joseph and Agarwal decided to use their tech expertise to try to help kids and parents, and build their own company.

But startup life has been “definitely up and down,” Joseph says. “We’ve been passionate that what we’re doing is right and adds value. But it’s taken us a while to pull the pieces together and get exposure, and get to a critical mass of users. I’ve been in a lot of early-stage companies. You always tell yourself it’s going to take longer than you think, but you never really figure out how to forecast for it. It’s critical for any startup to make sure they have capital to sustain themselves through that. You need investors who will help you through iterations.”

The potential payoff is what keeps TenMarks going. “This is a little different from a classic tech startup,” Joseph says. “If we’re successful, we can have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people. I can’t say I’ve had the opportunity to do that before.”

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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