EduTech Founder Story: Piazza

Oftentimes entrepreneurs decide to start a company because they want to create a solution to a problem they witnessed in their own personal life. For example, Square, the payment service that allows anybody to accept credit card payments, was born after the founder watched his glass-blowing friend lose a $2,000 sale on his artwork because he didn’t accept credit cards. And Cake Health, the health care management tool, was founded after CEO Rebecca Woodcock’s close friend developed epilepsy and she had a hard time helping him track his health services and costs. In the education tech space, Pooja Sankar, admits she founded Piazza to create a collaboration tool for students because she remembers feeling left out from study groups while taking computer science classes dominated by boys.

Pooja told Colleen Taylor at GigaOM that, “I noticed all my classmates were in the computer lab working together, but I was too shy to ask to be included… They would all be done with an assignment by 2 a.m., and I would be working on it until 6 a.m… Google and other search engines on the open Internet would have been too general for my purposes and the questions I had.”

Pooja launched Piazza to deliver a social network for college students to collaborate on tough classwork assignments. Professors can also answer questions, which the whole class can access, and teachers also get visibility into which topics students struggle with most. Piazza now has over 100,000 student users at schools including Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Princeton, Harvard, University of Michigan, and University of Texas, among others. Piazza raised $6 million Series A funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Kapor Capital and Felicis Ventures in January, and has also secured funding from Sequoia Capital and SV Angel.