Lane Merrifield – Co-Founder and CEO of FreshGrade
FreshGrade is a digital educational assessment and reporting tool. It allows teachers and students to create and curate electronic learning portfolios and report progress to parents in an ongoing, timely manner. Students often give evidence of their learning that doesn’t show up on tests or presentations, and FreshGrade allows teachers to capture these moments with pictures, text, video, or audio. Teachers can comment on specific learning outcomes or make anecdotal observations. Students can choose which learning artifacts will be included in their digital portfolios, giving them agency to demonstrate their knowledge in a meaningful way. FreshGrade can be used as a complimentary product to traditional reporting practices, but because the trend, increasingly, is to replace letter grades with more formative assessments that focus on core competencies, FreshGrade can also be used as a stand alone reporting system.
Lane Merrifield first made his mark on the tech world as a co-founder of Club Penguin, an online multiplayer game and social media site geared toward young children ages 6-14 with a focus on child safety and age appropriate content filters. Club Penguin uses chat and post filters that prevent users from sharing personal information in open forums while filtering profanity and inappropriate language. The site went live in 2005 and, within a year, had over 2.5 million users. By 2009, Club Penguin had over 200 million registered accounts. The Walt Disney Company purchased Club Penguin in 2007 for a reported $350 million, and Lane stayed on in a leadership capacity until 2012, when he left to focus on FreshGrade.
Lane has strong religious beliefs that guide his business decision making – he made it part of the negotiations with Disney that 10% of the company’s profits needed to be given to charity before he and his co-founders would agree to the deal.
With FreshGrade, Lane ‘s co-founder is Steve Wandler. Steve founded yourtechonline – an online tech support company – and negotiated its acquisition by support.com. Steve also founded metabridge – a start-up accelerator that connects entrepreneurs with venture capitalists.
FreshGrade is already making strong inroads into the educational assessment an evaluation market in BC and beyond. Where other companies have traditionally profited in this space by creating standardized tests or software for supporting the traditional reporting system, FreshGrade has created a new paradigm based on the e-portfolio model.