After getting Google’s Game Changer Award at Google Demo Day in May, Waterloo-based Knowledgehook has now announced $1.25 million in funding as it looks to expand its platform and pursue other markets.
The round was led by Sayan Navaratnam of Aadya Capital and CEO of Connex Telecommunications. It also includes investors Steve Case, co-founder of AOL (and a judge at Google Demo Day), and John Abele, co-founder of Boston Scientific.
Knowledgehook’s platform specifically addresses math education. It analyzes the academic performance of math students in real-time, while also giving teachers access to questions designed to fit their curriculum. But seven months is a long time, and Knowledgehook co-founder Travis Ratnam says that the team is using the funding to expand their platform based on the interesting things they’ve learned from teachers using the platform, as well as expanding into the UK and Australia markets.
“Education technology has to be vertically-integrated solution that pulls in all key people that are part of math education.”
“We’ve found teachers talking to other teachers in the school [about Knowledgehook], we found math consultants at the board level sharing this across the board, and then across new markets what we found is that there were a number of advocates who just popped out of the wordwork and discovered our tool,” said Ratnam. “But they were the type of people who would be invited to conferences to speak about various topics. Before we were reactively hearing about it, but now we’re more proactive with our advocate community.”
To do this, Knowledgehook looks at conferences coming up and provides demos and materials to teachers who can then promote them at events. For January, the company wants to continue this focus on teachers by providing them with access to math education thought leaders — like a social network for math teachers.
“For example, if we uncover an area that a number of classrooms are struggling with, we can go beyond what we do today which is to provide recommendations on best teaching practices. We can say, ‘here’s a renowned math educator who has trained teachers on this topic. Here’s a workshop that teachers will find useful’. Our system can detect them and invite them to those workshops,” Ratnam said.
Essentially, the company wants to build a community around math education — which includes involving parents. Knowledgehook’s platform allows teachers to communicate with parents to tell them how they can support their child’s math education at home. The company wants to continue building on this platform, and offer more support for parents who may not be the best at math themselves. “It’s different from the child coming home, and seeing an assignment and how the child failed. What we do is uncover the issue, and say ‘here’s a way to fix it, here’s what we do in the classroom, and here’s what you can do at home’.”
Ratnam said that what separates Knowledgehook from other edtech platforms is that it’s trying to fulfill a specific mission to help students struggling with math, rather than being an agnostic platform that basically digitizes a textbook and content.
“Imagine if you drop a textbook in a class. It doesn’t matter what that class is, you would generally get a bellcurve. You would have some students who are self-reliant and pick up the textbook and learn on their own, and you see some who don’t,” said Ratnam. “A digital textbook is just moving that bellcurve and the kids who are already doing well will continue to do well, but kids who are struggling may fall behind even more.”
In fact, Ratnam said that the basis of Knowledgehook is helping teachers become more effective, as there are things that humans can do that technology can’t. “What Knowledgehook realizes is that tech has to be vertically-integrated solution that pulls in all key people that are part of math education — that includes teacher, parent, and moving on to principals — and figuring out what they’re doing to support math outcomes.”