Education data startup BrightBytes raises $2.5 million Series A

By Erin Griffith , written on July 11, 2013

From The News Desk

BrightBytes, a San Francisco-based education analytics company, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding, led by ed-tech-focused venture capital firm Rethink Education. Matt Greenfield, managing partner of Rethink Education, has joined the company's board.

The capital will go to expand BrightBytes Labs, the company's team of researchers and data scientists who analyze qualitative and quantitative data for BrightBytes' platform. One third of BrightBytes' 22 employees have a doctorate degree in data science, says CEO Rob Mancabelli.

BrightBytes has sold its Clarity for Schools platform into thousands of schools across the US, Mancabelli says. The company is beginning to sell internationally in countries like China and Australia, having conversations at the country level in some cases. In the US, sales have come at the district and state level.

BrightBytes's Clarity for Schools platform applies the principles of big data to education, aiming to help schools make sense of the data they collect and measure the impact (or lack thereof) of the technology they're buying. The platform blends quantitative and quantitative that the school is already collecting related to demographics, psychographics and performance. Plenty of education software companies promise results; BrightBytes aims to provide them in an unbiased and easy-to-apply way.

BrightBytes's solution synthesizes data into a "score," based on four areas: classroom, access, skills, and environment. Schools can use their score to benchmark improvements over time. BrightBytes suggests improvement ideas and implementation plans to schools based on the scores.

In-school analytics is a burgenoning business. Kickboard, which offers a dashboard for teachers to track their students' performance and behavior with a "souped-up digital gradebook," raised $2.8 million from New Markets Venture Partners and Two Sigma Ventures. Another school data startup, Junyo, uses data to help edtech companies understand the needs of schools while also helping school understand what tech works best with their students. Ontract, which (update) changed its name to Learnmetrics, makes educational data into a "personalized learning engine" for teachers and students. Always Prepped, backed by $650,000 in seed funding from True Ventures, and Red Sea Venture partners, offers student data management tools that share realtime data with parents.

Mancabelli says the company's main differentiator from competition is that it turns research into actionable ideas. "A lot of available tools are warehouses or variations of that," he says. "We realized that educators have a lot of responsibilities. They dont need reporting, but they need us to distill thousands of pages of reseach into sumple success indicators that give them the next step to take."

In December BrightBytes raised a $750,000 convertible note from Amjad Hussain, data scientist and chairman of the NextWave incubator, and Andy Pechacek, President and CEO of R4 Enterprises, as well as Learn Capital Venture Partners, NewSchools Venture Fund and a company called H-RAM Holdings. The company has participated in a non-profit association called State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), which links states with ed-tech startups.