Facebook Founder Supports Educational Survey Startup
By guest blogger Ben Kamisar
Panorama Education, a startup that provides surveys and analytics based on feedback from parents, students, and teachers, announced Monday that it raised $4 million in seed funding through an initiative sponsored in part by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
"It's a really humbling experience because we realize we have this great opportunity," said Aaron Feuer, the 22-year-old CEO of Panorama Education.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based education company creates and analyzes surveys for K-12 schools, using information from the community in and around the school to help solve targeted problems.
The company's beginnings trace back to Feuer's role as a member of the California state student council, where he worked to get a bill passed through the state legislature to have students provide feedback for all of their classes. The bill was approved by legislators, but because of the budget crisis, it could not compel any school to act.
"This massive campaign, and this energy we had had come to nothing because this didn't get off the ground," Feuer recalled. "Having a big bill in Sacramento is not the way to make a difference in California public schools."
The idea reemerged during Feuer's junior year at Yale University in New Haven, Conn, and Panorama Education was born. Now, just a few months after his graduation, the company has grown to serve about 4,000 schools around the country, including some within the Los Angeles Unified school system. It also works with the Connecticut State Department of Education and Teach For America.
In one case, a school system came to Panorama for help solving a bullying problem. A survey uncovered that the problem only existed for 9th grade boys, who felt that teachers were not doing enough to stop it. That data was used to help the school stamp out the issue.
With the significant influx of cash, the company plans to launch a free tool for individual teachers and expand by hiring more engineers and ramping up outreach. The money comes from groups including Zuckerberg's Startup:Education, uber-investor Jeff Clavier's SoftTech VC, and actor Ashton Kutcher's A-Grade Investments.