San Francisco-based Pathbrite, an e-portfolio platform designed for students and educators but accessible to anyone, announced today that it has closed additional Series A funding, adding $4 million to the $2.5 million Series A round it raised in June 2012. This additional funding was led by ACT, makers of standardized tests for high school and college admissions, ReThink Education, and a number of angel investors. The startup officially launched at the SXSWedu conference in 2012 to help students building online portfolios, and since then has added 100 college and universities, in addition to inking distribution deals with both Pearson and McGraw-Hill Education.
Founder and CEO Heather Hiles spoke with BetaKit about the startup’s mission to help students and others connect the dots between their accomplishments and better enable them to tell their story to potential employers. “Other e-portfolios had proven [that] through the process of pushing or mandating students to reflect on what they’re learning online, we could actually affect meta-learning, meta-cognition, and critical thinking skills,” said Hiles in an interview. “I decided to make a web 2.0 portfolio product that would actually focus on those learning outcomes and help learners holistically understand what they’re learning both in the classroom and outside the classroom [to] help them tell their story effectively and get really good guidance from their teachers.”
The platform gives users the ability pull together online content to showcase their personal, academic, and professional accolades through a visual and customizable template-driven approach. Earlier this year, the startup also launched its ‘Portfolios for Educators’ platform to give teachers the ability to better help their students in creating their digital portfolios, while also being able to use the technology for student assessments.
Educators can create course-specific portfolios and invite other teachers and their students to them to administer and monitor assignments and other learning-based outcomes, which the students can later use for their personal portfolios. Currently being used by higher education institutions like Stanford University all the way to entire K-12 school districts, educators can either choose to get their students to pay $10 per year for the platform or establish a licensing agreement with Pathbrite.
There are certainly no shortage of online portfolio sites ranging from those that target professionals like Behance and Zerply all the way to other startups in the edtech space like MyEdu, which BetaKit covered when it added tools for recruiters. With its new offering for educators, the company will also be going head-to-head against startups like Edmodo and Showbie, both of which aim to establish better student and teacher interaction. According to Hiles the key differentiators for Pathbrite include the company’s technology and multimedia approach.
“We’re a stand-alone system, holds all the data in the cloud, truly multimedia. You have a better multimedia curation experience with our platform than you do with any other multimedia platform out there,” Hiles added. “We’re focusing in on the things that provide that meta-cognition and critical thinking skills, so it’s not just a place you put your content but get challenged to explain and make connections between different experiences.”
The startup’s ultimate vision is to help students use the data to hone in on their own learning process and use its self-reflection tools to better understand what makes them unique. It is also actively working with its partners to be able to pull additional test scores, transcripts, and other academic data, and will continue to use its existing and new funding to add more partners and clients in the education space.
Hiles also told BetaKit that the startup will be integrating with Evernote and that the company will look to raise a Series B funding round in the fall. With its plug-and-play approach to online portfolios the company is attempting to appeal to a wide mass market that includes literally anyone from grade school students to seasoned professionals, while also branching into the learning process itself. Whether it’s attempting to do too many things or appeal to too many markets at once is something it will soon find out, and should help shape its direction in the months to come.