Dr. Brian Jacobs
panOpen curates OER. The materials are peer reviewed and customizable, and the platform can also be used to create quizzes, and provide student analytics as well as chat. Instructors can use panOpen to find high quality resources or share their own curated content with their colleagues. The idea behind the company is to provide a new alternative to textbooks for higher education. There is a small fee associated with the platform, although it is less than a university textbook.
They recieved significant funding from several companies, and were able to raise $750 000 in seed funding, and more recently completed an investment round of $1.5M led by Zen Group, LLC.
Founder and Team
The CEO and founder of panOpen is Dr. Brian Jacobs. He began his career as an academic but has since moved into educational technology ventures. panOpen is his second venture, which he began to help instructors use the potential of open source materials. He is in a good position to understand the problems with textbooks (and student reluctance to use them) as he has a background in teaching in higher education. He is also clearly interested in educational technologies since this is his second venture and he is passionate about the venture because he left his previous venture to start this one. Plus his previous venture was a success so he has experience in starting up and running a company.
The CPO, Joshua Mullineaux, also has previous experience with educational ventures having previously co-founded two other ventures. They also have a Development Editor, Dr. Kate Forrester, a Software Engineer, Roger Blancarte, and a Content Intern, Sonam Wang (Wong). The team appears to be well rounded with some looking at content and other at the technological aspect.
I thought this venture was interesting. Since starting my online classes, I have really enjoyed not having textbooks but a series of online readings instead. This company shows how you can identify a pain point (students’ not purchasing textbooks) and then adapt an existing resources (OERs) to create an innovative solution. To be successful, you need to be able to combine these two things to get your idea and then have the business know-how to develop and run a successful business and create a strong team.