The team behind Ed-Tech Startup TeacherGraph

The team behind Ed-Tech Startup TeacherGraph

Joseph Van and Tony Le founded TeacherGraph, a software as a service (SaaS) application online that allows schools to send messages via email or text to parents and for them to send back messages all on one platform. Van spent some time Wednesday answering questions about the new startup which has just launched out of private beta.

Q. In simplest language, please explain what is TeacherGraph?

A. In the simplest language, TeacherGraph is a tool that allows schools and parents to communicate more effectively by putting all that communication into one application.

Q. How does it work?

A. As a teacher or an as an administrator or anyone in the school you can reach one or many parents with a click of the button. It’s really simple for the school to message the community. And teachers can blast the class with any reminder. But parents can also reply back to them with email or by text. It’s private and secure. Text messaging is really, really popular. It’s increasing the reach you can get in these socially diverse economic situations for people who don’t have a computer or email.

Q. What problem are you trying to solve?

A. How schools, administrators and teachers can reach parents easily and effectively. Right now, there is no way to make sure that the messages that parents are sending are being received or that the messages the schools are sending are being received. TeacherGraph is a new tool at a very affordable price that can tackle all forms of communication within the school at once.

Q. Who makes up your team?

A. Tony Le is the co-founder and we currently have four developers who are really talented and energetic individuals. We also have two business development guys.

Q. Why are you guys the ones to solve this problem?

A. Tony and myself sit at the intersection of education and technology. We have backgrounds in technology, communications and education.

Q. What’s your secret sauce that differentiates your product from the competition?

A. It’s a combination of things. We have a really, really great team with backgrounds in Google, Facebook and educational companies. There is a lot of talent on this team that is young. We’ve had a really vocal, awesome community of fans.

Q. Who are your customers?

A. We have tons of beta partners. As of Saturday, we opened up our Beta. We are working with a couple of schools and individual teachers throughout the U.S. K-12.

Q. Are you bootstrapped, angel funded or VC funded?

A. We are super bootstrapped. The bootstrapped route is doing very well for us.

Q. Where are you based in Austin?

A. Sometimes it’s on campus (at the University of Texas at Austin) and sometimes we’re based at Capital Factory. Other times we are working out of schools.

Q. What Austin startup resources do you use?

A. Austin has been such a great resource. The Capital Factory for one has been instrumental in connecting the right dots in starting a SaaS based company. We had a launch party on Saturday. It’s really awesome to know these teachers, administrators. It’s a great city to grow into.

Q. What’s the business model, how do you guys make money?

A. It’s free for teachers. Schools when they decide to adopt they pay on a monthly basis. Potentially – the pricing model is based on per user – per teacher.

Q. Who are your competitors?

A. We compete with all the really big enterprise level software companies that do 300 things at once. Then there are group text messaging services and another startup Remind 101.

Q. How are you going to acquire customers?

A. We’ll get customers through really great digital word of mouth. We have a very big Facebook following. It’s nice to see that active teacher community on Facebook. We can reach out to them on Facebook. We’re still pretty young. The Austin Ed-Tech Meetup in Austin has been a great resource.

Q. Anything else you would like to add or make a point of?

A. A lot of parents and schools want to know about the security of the platform. From a security perspective, how secure is this data and will this communication be public? It’s even more secure than it was in the past. When you are using Teachergraph the communications are encrypted and secure. Parents can safely receive texts and keep their communications anonymous.