Engrade began in 2003 by way of a secondary school student who wanted a better method to connect with teachers on homework, assessments, and messages. Through the years, user feedback and revolutionary ideas have shaped Engrade in to a robust learning management system. Today, Engrade is a division of digital learning-focused CTB/McGraw-Hill and helps educators, parents, and students through all stages of the learning cycle from curriculum likely to assessments.
This week, Engrade put the finishing touches upon an emblematic story in the world of education startups. In 2003, high school student Bri Holt decided he’d heard enough griping from classmates (and teachers) over the lack of a fast, easy way to view their grades online. So, like any budding web developer, he decided to build so easy, engrade for his senior high school.
As the product found numerous eager early customers among teachers and classmates, adoption wasn’t exactly explosive. So, as it goes, Holt soon graduated and progressed with other pursuits. Meanwhile, left to the own devices, the gradebook slowly and deliberately continued to attract frustrated teachers looking for an online grading solution. So, thinks kept snowballing.
By 2010, nearly seven years later, its user base had grown sizable enough that Holt felt justified to go back to developing the product full-time. He made a decision to officially turn the gradebook into a business and expand its functionality – what can later become Engrade .
Fast toward in the week, and publishing giant McGraw-Hill Education consented to purchase Holt’s online gradebook – now better known as free online gradebook – for the purpose TechCrunch hears from sources was around $50 million. To education entrepreneurs, it’s an enviable outcome as well as a path (albeit perhaps not really a totally replicable one) worth emulation.
However, all in all, this process, from founding to sale, took over ten years. In part, it’s not surprising given that building and selling an education company (for just about any real return) takes years, maybe even decades. Of course, should you build something that solves a difficulty and this your customer really needs, adoption and customer acquisition will come. As it pertains to education: Teachers agdwlr simple tools which make their lives easier, and if you build one to them, and work with them to improve it, they’ll become the perfect evangelists.
Ultimately, the acquisition seems to be a far more-than-positive outcome for Engrade’s founders, its team along with its investors. The company had raised about $8 million total over two rounds, including from NewSchools Ventures, Zac Zeitlin, Expansion Venture Capital, Kapor Capital, Javelin Venture Partners, Rethink Education and Samsung Ventures, and others.