Venture Capital Roundup: Fullbridge Raises $15 Million to Close the ‘Workplace Skills Gap’

By guest blogger Kevin Connors

Let’s play two truths and a lie, Boston edition. New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski appeared on Family Feud. A Boston-based education company led the latest venture capital rounds. There was still snow in Boston as of July 15th.

Trick question! All true. Who knew? Anyway, here are the rest of your highlights: K-12_Dealmaking.gif

Brightwheel: The San Francisco-based startup, which created a mobile communication platform for preschool teachers and parents, raised $2.2 million in an oversubscribed seed round. RRE Ventures and Eniac Ventures led the round, with additional participation from CrossLink Capital, Golden Venture Partners, Red Swan Ventures, and Sherpa Ventures. Instead of using the traditional pen and paper, the Brightwheel app allows teachers to keep daily records, communicate with parents, and collect payments on their phones. The free app is being piloted in about 100 schools, but the company will also offer a premium version with additional features and services in the future. The pre-K space, which is an entirely private industry, is about a $45 billion market with over 12 million children enrolled, according to TechCrunch.

Fullbridge: A huge round for Boston, MA-based Fullbridge, which aims to close the workplace skills gap for students and young professionals by offering intensive, 1-4 week trainings on the skills employers say are most needed in the global economy. Return investor GSV Capital led the venture round that netted the company $15.4 million through the sale of a series of preferred stock. Fullbridge “reached six times more students in 2014 than in 2013,” according to a recent statement, and has now served a total of 10,000 students across the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East since 2009. Funding will be used to improve its technology platform, expand its programming and geographic footprint, and bolster its leadership team.

ClassWallet: The school procurement market nears $23 billion annually, with most transactions taking the form of cash, checks, and purchase orders. Miami-based ClassWallet seeks to change that form of payment. The ed-tech company just received $1.9 million in a seed round led by NewSchools Venture Seed Fund, Kaplan Ventures, and William Guttman. ClassWallet is a graduate of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, Powered by Techstars that designed an end-to-end platform that combines fund disbursement, e-commerce, a reloadable debit card, and tracking for school systems. The one-year-old company has now raised a total of $3.1 million in venture capital.

Kaizena: $900,000 to Kaizena, a startup that believes humans learn best with frequent, immediate, and personalized feedback. NewSchools Seed Fund and Horizon Ventures led the seed round, with angel investors Victor Alcantara, Umang Gupta, Jeff Weiner, and Tom Williams participating as well. Here’s the gist: As soon as students finish a project or assignment, they use Kaizena to receive feedback from peers and teachers. Feedback can take many forms, such as highlighted text, voice comments, or even embedded videos to explain certain concepts. The Palo Alto, CA-based company says its free product is used by thousands of teachers and students representing more than 80 countries.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated that Fullbridge was based out of Cambridge, MA.

For more news on mergers, acquisitions, and venture capital in education, follow Marketplace K-12’s “K-12 Dealmaking” series.  


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