Concept: Social entrepreneurial startup Kleo developed ClassWallet.com, a tool designed to make it easier for teachers to raise, manage, track and spend money for the classroom. Teachers are provided an e-wallet to collect funds for field trips and special projects as well as purchase supplies within ClassWallet.com’s ecommerce marketplace.
Story: Kleo CEO and founder Jamie Rosenberg is a lawyer-turned-education-technologist. His passion for education blossomed when mentoring a student with learning and physical disabilities. Rosenberg formerly founded AdoptAClassroom.org, the country’s leading education technology philanthropy platform, when he recognized that collecting community funds the old-fashioned way — through brown envelopes and bake sales — was not effective and cost teachers time and money of their own.
ClassWallet.com brings economies-of-scale, greater efficiency, more cost savings and increased transparency in order to make a bigger impact on student learning.
Launched: Summer 2012
Management team: Jamie Rosenberg, CEO and founder; Michael Karavolos, chief product officer.
No. of employees: Six
Financing: Raised $635,000 from friends and family, closed June 2013. Currently seeking $1.5 million.
Recent milestones reached: Launched its KLEOplatform for Reading is Fundamental, one of the country’s oldest and largest literacy nonprofit organizations. Kleo streamlines how Reading is Fundamental distributes millions of dollars to programs around the United States so that underserved children can receive free books. Launched the KLEOplatform for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, a foundation serving the teachers of Duval County, the 21st largest school district in the United States. Gave a sneak preview of ClassWallet.com at the EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit two weeks ago. Teachers can register now at www.ClassWallet.com and enter for a chance to win $1,000 every year to spend on supplies throughout their career.
Next steps: Kleo is launching its 2.0 version of the ClassWallet.com platform this summer and numerous partnerships are nearing close that will expose ClassWallet.com to millions of teachers and parents. Kleo will be integrating its technology into numerous partner platforms that manage communications and payments among parents, teachers and schools. The strategy is to complete the integrations and to execute ClassWallet.com’s sales and distribution strategy to the networks that its partner platforms serve.
Biggest startup challenge: Balancing expectations of investors while continuing to build out the technology platform.
Advisor’s view: Hans Hickler, an advisor and investor in Kleo, said he was drawn to Kleo because Rosenberg was creating an entire platform, not just a product, in a space where it hasn’t been done before and the need is huge: “Any minute you can give a teacher that is not worried about money, it’s another minute they spend teaching our kids. A product like Jamie’s can really change the ability of teachers to do their work. ... As philanthropic money is being put into [education], we are creating a vehicle to allow that to happen cost efficiently, effectively and transparently. It seems like a no-brainer but it is actually quite complex.”
Hickler, a former executive at DHL with a passion for education, has been helping Rosenberg with launches, including partnerships: “We spend a lot of time talking through what partnerships will be most beneficial to us to scale the business. ... You have to say no to some really good stuff because you can’t do everything. You have to focus.”