After competing against eight startups, edtech company Possip took both the $10,000 crowd favorite award and the main prize of $50,000 at the 36|86 Entrepreneur Festival Pitch Competition last week. The cash prizes were presented by LaunchTN CEO Margaret Dolan.
Possip CEO Shani Dowell took the stage to provide details on how Possip has been improving schools for the past two years by helping parents communicate more effectively.
“I was incredibly happy to win both prizes, and winning both prizes is a blessing — and a testimony,” Dowell tells Hypepotamus. “We worked hard to make sure we won the crowd participation award to help get the word out about Possip.”
“The main prize was an additional treat. The other teams were strong and did a great job so we were proud to know that the judges saw our vision, opportunity, and progress.”
During her time as a Teach for America and public school teacher, Dowell saw a disconnect between school administrators, teachers, and parents.
The only time parents could both provide positive feedback and air grievances was during PTA meetings, which are often inconvenient to attend.
With Possip, schools can send an email or text soliciting feedback from parents. The whole process takes under a minute. The platform organizes all incoming responses into five buckets: academics, staff operations, teachers, classroom culture and school culture.
“We’ve never encountered a school that says that they don’t need a solution like this. There’s a clear sense of we need a better way to engage parents and to hear from parents,” Dowell told Hypepotamus last year.
Possip will funnel the $60,000 towards expanding its team in sales, engineering and data analytics.
The Nashville-based startup has surpassed its goal of raising a $750,000 angel round and will likely close over $800,000.
“We got so much traction and interest from this round that we have decided to extend our round to raise a bit more. We are still working through the details and deciding if we will be adding new investors,” says Dowell.
Possip already has over 33,000 parents on the platform and has retained over 90 percent of their school partners.
“Our goal for this year is to grow to 300 schools and close to 150,000 users in our platform,” says Dowell. “In terms of product development, we are excited about the continued evolution of our product to include comparative analytics for schools and districts.”
The nine startups that pitched at 36|86 were selected by LaunchTN, the public-private partnership that serves as the backbone of the entrepreneurship event, now in its fourth year. The state-wide organization partnered with regional entrepreneur centers and industry-specific organizations to narrow down the companies.
The other eight companies were: VR-powered training platform C4 Solutions; first-aid overlay CPRWrap; DOT-compliance platform DOTReady; neurorehabilitation device company Healing Innovations; public cloud platform Idyl Cloud; property management software SecondKeys; self-storage software solution StoragePug; and recycling technology Nth Cycle.