Minnesota startup Kidblog has been on a roll, but they’re hardly taking the summer off. If you know the cofounders, Matt Hardy and Dan Flies, you’ve likely heard by now that they were invited by their latest investor, 500 Startups, to spend the summer working in its offices in Mountain View (which I’m told has the best view in town from the 12th floor). The reason: to continue building out their platform and getting great advice and counsel from the 500 Startups ecosystem.
Kidblog has grown from modest beginnings here in the Twin Cities some years ago — first as a non-profit at a dot-org domain — to nothing less than “the world’s largest education blogging platform.” Now graduated to a full-on business, the founders have already raised a seed round of something close to $400,000 from a handful of savvy angels in the Valley, including 500 Startups’ Dave McClure. Kidblog is officially now a portfolio company in 500 Startups’ “Family Tech/Education” category, and will be listed on that page of its web site soon with the new Kidblog logo (above).
The story of this startup all began because Matt Hardy, a grade-school teacher in Eden Prairie and an experienced developer, had a passion — he decided he had to build something better than what he’d found at the time was available to teachers to help their students learn to write through blogging. Soon joined by his college buddy Dan Flies, also a crackerjack developer, they began finding that more and more teachers, all over, started hearing about the Kidblog platform and were loving what the two had built! Growth in users started to take off like mad a year or so ago. (See chart – and that’s just up until March of 2012.) Fast forward to today, Kidblog now has something like 1.5 million users and close to 150,000 classrooms worldwide using the platform. And those users are across all fifty states and many foreign countries.
I’m sure the work hours for Matt and Dan have been very long this summer at their temporary new home — undoubtedly building new features and plotting revenue models going forward. But I trust they are also having fun and meeting tons of great, new contacts — and raising more money to fuel their growth. A bit of news came this week that they had just launched a new Kidblog Facebook page. So, all you Minnesota techies out there, “Like” ‘em here! — and watch the ongoing updates. I’m also hearing that a brand-spanking-new web site is about to go live — this time, sporting a dot-com domain. The non-profit days are in the rear-view mirror!
We wish Matt and Dan all the best as they get an intense education themselves — namely, in how to build a real business from a technology platform that simply and effectively filled a legitimate market need and thus became very well loved. Kidblog is fortunate to be a rising star in one of the hottest startup spaces going right now: “edu-tech.”
I look forward to seeing Matt and Dan again soon, either back here in Minnesota or on a visit to the Valley. And we’ll be sure to get them on as podcast guests after their summer adventure.