Kitchener-Waterloo based startup Kaizena announced today the close of $900,000 in seed funding, led by NewSchools Seed Fund, Horizons Ventures, and an impressive group of angels, including Jeff Weiner (CEO of LinkedIn) and Umang Gupta.
Taking its name from the Japanese word Kaizen, which means “good change,” the Velocity startup offers an online platform focused on improving student skills by allowing teachers to give highly targeted, personalized, actionable feedback.
While the Kaizena’s mission statement of “continuous improvement” may seem high-minded, the company’s approach is firmly grounded in the practical realities of modern education. Maxwell Brodie, Kaizena’s co-founder, explained it this way during an interview last December: “Our goal as a product is to take the best practices in feedback research – how you go from point A to point B – and turn that into a product, so that the teacher who is maybe not familiar with the research and pedagogy and all these fancy education techniques, can simply use our product and know they’re giving great feedback to their students.”
Taking the traditional ‘red marker’ paper experience and bringing it to the digital world can have unique benefits, but Brodie was again clear that “good change” can be a simple proposition. “We believe very strongly that in order to affect student outcomes at a mass scale, for the mass market, we first have to save teachers time,” he said.
Of course, selling that outcome into schools is a different beast. In the full audio interview below, Brodie details Kaizena’s sales strategy. Enjoy!