Data in schools can get out of control, and startups that build APIs (Application Programming Interface) want to help clean up the mess.
“Thousands of schools are moving data by hand every day,” said Dan Carroll, co-founder and COO of Clever, an API-building service making a name for itself in the education technology space. “Clever is working to make schools more automated.”
Technapex covered Clever’s launch on June 27 and their entry into the API-building and data management market. LearnSprout, another company focused on helping schools manage their Student Information Systems launched last January.
Clever’s business model revolves around managing the complicated Student Information Systems across various school districts. Software developers then work with Clever to access all student information in order to produce learning management systems, apps, programs and more.
Investors are also paying attention. Clever recently completed an intense three-month program with the startup accelerator Y Combinator.
“August 21 was our demo day when we presented to investors,” said Carrol. “We received quite a bit of attention, but I can’t share the specific news just yet.”
Carrol was able to tell Technapex about adding Matt Pasternack to the staff, who will work with the company’s developer partners and lead business development. Pasternack taught three years in Harlem for Teach for America before co-founding the data and analytics startup Junyo. Clever is his next venture into education technology.
Pasternack described his excitement to be part of the Clever team: “We have exactly the right mix of experience and optimism here,” he said. “We have a very clear problem we are facing and we believe we know how to solve it better than anyone else.”
The kind of data management services that Clever offers has existed in many IT companies for several years, but tackling education is a recent development. For years, Student Information Systems grew increasingly varied, complex and numerous, which created a mess of data that proved difficult for developers to handle.
MasteryConnect, a company that offers a service which allows teachers to monitor student performance, has partnered with Clever in order to augment its resources.
“Our school partners are blown away that integrations with their SIS can be done in days, not months or years,” said MasteryConnect CEO Mick Hewitt.
Using APIs to manage student data also has a positive effect on teachers. Districts often call upon teachers to organize their own data, taking time away from what would otherwise be spent teaching students. Clever’s goal is to get teachers back in the classroom.
“The simple scenario is you have a teacher who wants to use a new program in the class. They get the permission from their district, but then they have to enter in all the data,” Pasternack said. “If there’s a mistake made on one student’s account with that program, that student is at a disadvantage. The barriers of the SISes in schools are a pain, and we work to tear down those walls.”
The work of a company like Clever is leading to better products for students, less tedious work for developers, more time for teachers to actually teach, and data that is finally under control. We’ll be paying close attention to this ambitious seven-person startup and the outcomes of its participation with Y Combinator.