Hi, I'm John Danner, Managing Director of Dunce Capital. Dunce Deals is my look at the most interesting deals and news from edtech and the future of work. In the last four years, I have made over three dozen pre-seed investments in the space including Lambda School, Outschool, GetSetup, and Maven. Before Dunce, I founded three companies, NetGravity (IPO), Rocketship Public Schools (12k students) and Zeal (sold 2018).
I am headed off to the Aspen Jazz Festival this weekend, my first music festival since the pandemic started. I really hope that an outside venue will keep us safe, fingers crossed!
This week I am writing about the nitty gritty of what I see founders doing wrong when trying to find Product Market Fit.
Description: A no-code way for educators to make great interactive content for students
Founder: jared schiffman
Current Dunce Investment: Yes
Notes: I am shocked how little focus no-code solutions for educators has received. Some of the leading SaaS companies in the world like Airtable have built their businesses around empowering non-coders to solve business problems. That has not translated into similar solutions in education. Jared is a Media Lab and High Tech High alum, the perfect background to build a no-code system for teachers. This is a very early startup, but pretty unique.
Description: A Better Way to Study Abroad
Founder: Zach Clenaghan
Current Dunce Investment: No
Notes: The trend around combining a gap year with taking care of the first year of college requirements continues to accelerate. Folks like Verto have done this well. While I am not a big fan of college, there is an obvious appeal for eighteen year olds to travel, meet people, and take care of some requirements. And as a business, aggregating a lot of the upcoming freshman makes a lot of sense as well. The challenge here of course is getting colleges to give credit for the classes students have taken.
Description: Live 1-1 Classes Teaching Kids Math Through Code
Founder: tamir shklaz
Current Dunce Investment: No
Notes: Strive Math is a company in this batch from YC. It’s an interesting idea. I certainly learned most of my math through code, and there are so many ways to make math come to life through coding. I’m less sure about 1-1 classes which have a lot of problems with scalability and affordability. Still, it’s great to see creative founders coming up with new ways to teach the fundamentals.
Here is the complete list of Dunce Investments:
Mystery Science - purchased by Discovery Education 2020
Swing - on-demand talent for the education market
Epic! - the best children’s books digitally for every classroom and every home
Kunduz - the leader in test prep for Turkey
Erudifi - loans for students going to vocational schools and higher ed in SE Asia.
Outschool - the best marketplace of live small classes for your k-12 student
Juni - Coding, Math, and English instruction 1-1 and small group
Lambda School - teaching students to code and get jobs in great companies
LingoKids - English learning for young children
Padlet - a modern document creation and sharing platform
TinyCare - micro-daycare centers
SV Academy - teaching students tech sales and getting them jobs in great companies
Sora - a better high school, completely online
Prenda - micro-schools to unlock your child’s talent
CoLearn - K-9 virtual unschooling that’s better than free.
Galileo - the first online world school
Beanstalk - live classes for young children
GetSetup - live social network for seniors
Primer - live academic and social network for homeschoolers
Contra - social network for freelancers
Fourthrev - run digital bootcamps for universities focused on in-demand job skills
Marketerhire - marketing experts from that you can rent
Abwaab - the best test prep platform in MENA
Supernow - live classes and clubs for elementary and middle schoolers
Maven - the leader in cohort-based courses
Prendea - live classes and social network for students in LatAm
Kritik - peer grading for higher ed
Major League Hacking - hackathons and fellowships for university students
Reforge - live classes on Growth for upskilling professionals
Synthesis School - learn problem-solving by playing video games
AI Camp - AI for ages 13-18 from Stanford pHDs.
Bindr - Silent study groups online.
The Explanation Company - Google for kids.
Omella - payments for schools, non-profits, and small businesses.
Geniebook - a personalized learning platform for Singapore and Vietnam.
Hallo - cohort-based language learning.
StudyStream - Silent study groups online.
This newsletter is not an offer to sell securities nor a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. I am not acting as your financial advisor and I urge you to consult your own advisors before making any investment decision.