Teachers are always on the hunt for free supplies for their class and effective communication with the parents.
Vlada Lotkina, CEO & Co-founder of ClassTag understands this need; and in an interview with EdTechReview shared his plans to support the teaching and school community. (Transcript below)
What would be an elevator pitch for someone who does not know about ClassTag?
ClassTag is a free, intuitive, and easy-to-use app that transforms parent-teacher communications, saves time on preparations, and offers free classroom supplies for teachers.
What is your company’s core value proposition? What problem are you solving and for whom?
ClassTag was built to address two top concerns in elementary and secondary education: Increasing parent engagement in the classroom and providing teachers with much-needed funding to get their students what they need.
The platform is easy-to-use and collaborative for parents and teachers. It automatically schedules events and conferences, manages volunteer opportunities, and shares classroom news, events, and assignments. When parents sign up to volunteer, attend conferences, or simply read teachers’ messages, classrooms earn ClassTag Coins as a reward. Teachers can then use ClassTag Coins to obtain free supplies for their students and classrooms via the ClassTag Marketplace.
Tell us about your young team, who do you have supporting you? How did this start?
ClassTag was founded in 2016 after I found myself struggling to stay current on my daughter’s activities at school. I realized that while technology has revolutionized most aspects of American life, the classroom and parent-teacher communications were still prisoners to pen and paper, with notes lost in backpacks or overlooked tacked to classroom doors.
To develop this idea, I teamed up with fellow parent, Jason Olim, whose child attended the same school. Ironically, Jason had been an early pioneer of the e-commerce revolution, having founded CDNow in 1994, the first online music store, which was once valued at $1 billion.
Where do you see your company in 12 or 18 months from now?
ClassTag is on incredible growth trajectory. Growing 10x this year we are able to reach 20,000 classrooms nationwide. We are also rapidly growing our partnerships to support these classrooms with free supplies and exclusive offers by expanding relationships based on early success they have seen.
What is the biggest need for your edtech startup?
Education is known to be one of the last sectors left for disruption by technology. That is a huge opportunity but also speaks to the reasons and challenges that those who dare to disrupt have to overcome.
In our case, we have a very innovative value proposition for education–it is not only a comprehensive and completely free platform that helps parents and teachers collaborate, but also one that helps teachers get free supplies funded by our corporate partnerships. While there are many examples of this out there like the famous Box Tops for Education program, what we are building for the digital world is revolutionary in education. As a result, our biggest need as a startup is growing awareness and educating the market about this massive opportunity.
What are some of the challenges you see?
When it comes to reaching students’ parents, whether it be through an app like ClassTag or simple paper printouts, US teachers are faced with many challenges:
– Parents who are resistant to downloading the apps classrooms have integrated
– Parents with limited access to technology
– Parents who speak English as a second language (if at all)
– Contact details that are out of date
– Poorly equipped classrooms
– Limited funding
Key to ClassTag’s success in overcoming these challenges is its intuitive, easy-to-use interface. It automates the tedium of parent-teacher communications–everything from daily updates, classroom volunteer scheduling, arranging parent-teacher conferences, and simply sharing class assignments and news, among others.
Not only have we developed the parent-teacher engagement app to address core barriers teachers face when communicating with parents, ClassTag also translates messages in over 50 languages and distributes them in a parent’s preferred channel, whether that’s via the app, text message, email, or even paper printouts for families without computers or smartphones. ClassTag does not require parents to download an app to receive communications, ensuring virtually 100% adoption.
What/Who motivates you? Any thought leader or companies with innovation which you follow for success? Whether in the EdTech space or in general?
At ClassTag, we are predominately motivated by teachers. After immersing myself in the education space and speaking with dozens of frustrated teachers, it became apparent that one of the most important predictors of student success is parent engagement. Our recent survey, the State of Parent Engagement, confirmed that even further, with teachers citing parent-teacher engagement, alongside home life and classroom climate, as the critical factors in student success and performance, far ahead of student aptitude.
Because of this, and the lack of support teachers receive, we developed an effective solution for both teachers and parents, helping them communicate with one another in a simple way. With ClassTag, companies can step up to do their part in supporting teachers. Teachers can focus on teaching, not paperwork, and parents have a window into the classroom, helping them stay informed and engaged.
Who would you call your competitors? And how are you different?
Some of our competitors include Remind, ClassDojo and Bloomz. Unlike other parent-teacher engagement platforms, ClassTag is the only app that attacks the key breaking points in parent communication, helping teachers reach every parent and do so while saving time and getting free supplies for their classrooms.
You have recently launched the ClassTag Rewards, how do you expect this solution to compete in the market?
Our primary goal and focus is to support teachers. Understanding this goal led us to the development of ClassTag’s Rewards, which gives teachers much-needed supplies and resources to improve student success and communication with families for simply using ClassTag. This is a real breakthrough for education and focuses on supporting teachers when needed the most, whether that be reaching every parent, getting parents signed up for parent-teacher conferences, or reducing the amount of money they spend annually on classroom supplies.