Nearly all successful modern companies employ some variation of a build-measure-learn feedback cycle. It’s a cycle that iterates as follows: you take an initial position on what your product should be and build it. Then, you measure your target audience’s response and interaction with the product. Then, you analyze your data measurements to figure out where your initial hypothesis was right or wrong and use the learnings from this analysis to inform that next iteration of the product. The cycle is now complete and begins anew.
Because this cycle is so fundamental to offering a great experience to customers, all companies purchase analytics of one flavor or another. It’s an essential component to building anything. Lacking great analytics, a company is flying blind.
Education is no different. In the market of providing education to students, schools need to engage in a build-measure-learn feedback cycle. This is not a new and there has been a need for assessment of education quality for as long as we have been teaching students.
Panorama Education, a Boston-based company, addresses this market need with a modern web approach that brings the best software advantages to help schools measure and improve the education they offer. They offer a product to schools to survey students, parents, teachers, and staff and then analyze that data to help improve student outcomes.
I’m excited about Panorama Education for a few reasons:
1) Schools give Panorama glowing reviews. When you talk to the data departments of public and charter school districts, they see Panorama as a pinnacle example a great partner.
2) Existing incumbents in the education survey market take a sorely antiquated approach. Some incumbents make money by licensing proprietary survey designs to schools at absorbent prices. Because surveys are most effective when they are run longitudinally, these proprietary surveys create lock-in that needlessly wastes districts’ money as the licenses have to be renewed annually. By contrast, Panorama has collaborated with Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education to build a best-of-breed survey design optimized to capture the best possible data across a wide variety of themes and then open sourced the design. The survey is available for anyone to use for free, and then using Panorama’s survey platform with these surveys will offer a school the best possible product experience. It’s a web-native approach to this market that I love because it means more data will be collected using Panorama’s methodology (even if the schools are not Panorama customers today), and it changes the basis of competition to competing on the quality of the software platform for data collection and analysis (where Panorama shines).
3) The Panorama founders (Aaron Feuer and Xan Tanner) and the team they’ve built are a very impressive group with a mission-driven obsession to build the best possible platform for schools to measure and improve their education. They see analytics in combination with a library of educational best practices as the highest point of leverage to improve improve student outcomes, and they have the commercial and sales instincts to build a very strong business at the same time.
4) The customer traction is remarkable. Panorama has been used by 3 million students across 6500 schools to date. The sales momentum is a testament to the great value proposition they offer schools.
I’m excited to announce Spark Capital’s latest investment today, Panorama Education. Owl Ventures and Spark Capital co-led a $12MM round into the company. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Aaron and Xan as they continue their mission.