Engrade began in 2003 by way of a senior high school student who wanted an improved way to connect to teachers on homework, assessments, and messages. Through the years, user feedback and modern ideas have shaped Engrade into a robust learning management system. Today, Engrade is a division of digital learning-focused CTB/McGraw-Hill so it helps educators, parents, and students through all stages of the learning cycle from curriculum planning to assessments.
This week, Engrade position the finishing touches on an emblematic story on earth of education startups. In 2003, senior high school student Bri Holt decided he’d heard enough griping from classmates (and teachers) over the lack of a fast, great way to view their grades online. So, like any budding web developer, he decided to build so easy, engradewv for his senior high school.
Whilst the product found several eager early customers among teachers and classmates, adoption wasn’t exactly explosive. So, as it goes, Holt soon graduated and moved on to 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 return to developing the merchandise full time. He chose to officially turn the gradebook in to a business and expand its functionality – what would later become Engrade .
Fast toward this week, and publishing giant McGraw-Hill Education decided to purchase Holt’s online gradebook – now also known as engrade wv – for which TechCrunch hears from sources was around $50 million. To education entrepreneurs, it’s an enviable outcome as well as a path (albeit perhaps not just a totally replicable one) worth emulation.
However, all in all, this process, from founding to sale, took over a decade. To some extent, it’s not surprising given that building and selling an education company (for any real return) takes years, maybe even decades. Of course, if you build something which solves a difficulty which your customer really needs, adoption and customer acquisition can come. As it relates to education: Teachers agdwlr simple tools which make their lives easier, and if you build one to them, and work together to improve it, they’ll become your evangelists.
Ultimately, the acquisition seems to be a much 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, among others.