Remind 101 founder and CEO Brett Kopf was once a struggling student with dyslexia and ADD who credits two particular teachers who worked with him and his family to ensure for his eventual learning success. Since that time Brett has been ‘teacher-obsessed’ and eventually founded Remind 101 with his brother David to improve communication between teachers, students and parents.
Remind 101 is a smartphone app that allows students and/or to enroll in a teacher’s course messaging system without sharing the phone numbers with each other. Remind 101 messages are sent by the teacher and delivered to the smart phone as text messages thus avoiding the inefficiencies of email messages or printed materials. Communication is one way only.
Initially, Brett had his brother David make him an Excel based SMS app to send him assignment and test dates reminders in college. They would soon sign up 2000 other students at their college in 2010. To further develop the product for teachers, they joined an startup incubator known as Imagine K12 and David spent 16 hours a day learning to code while Brett spoke with as many teachers as he could to find out how they were communicating with their students. They launched the mobile app in 2013 and have raised 48 million dollars in investment in the last three years with plans to expand the reach of their product worldwide.
Remind’s team currently consists of fifty-six people who bring a wealth of online software engineering, marketing and support experience (including data scientists with experience from the early years of Facebook). The app is still free with an eye to up-selling premium features (like the ability to sign digital permission forms) in the future. While I am curious about their path to monetization, I know several users of the product who are very happy and would consider the paid features as well.
I think it is a great story of a couple of brothers who almost accidentally found a way to fill a hole in K12 education. Even someone more interested in Intrapreneurship like myself can learn from Brett Kopf’s insistence on asking teachers what they needed before releasing his product and then continuing to ask them how his product can evolve and improve.