Jose Ferreira , CEO
Bakpax (2017), Knewton (2008)
Bakpax was co-founded by Jose Ferreira in 2017. Bakpax is an AI drive software that can read handwriting and offers two core services. First, teachers can take a photo of their handwriting which will then be turned into an interactive text/answer key. Then, the student will take a photo of their handwritten work and the assignment will be marked using the key. Second, it offers assignment analytics once it is finished marking the assignments. Bakpax promises to help alleviate the time-consuming process of marking and it promises to integrate this service seamlessly into the classroom by allowing teachers to use normal handwriting. The unique value proposition is that there is no requirement for special formatting of assignments or printing special answer sheets for students which is often required in other grading software.
Jose Ferreira is by all metrics, a tested veteran of the ed-tech world. Bakpax is his second entrepreneurial venture and the company is still in its early stages. We can however look at his previous creation to really see his capabilities. Knewton his previous company was founded in 2008 and currently employs 150 people, over its lifespan Knewton has raised $157 million dollars in capital. In this regard, one could consider Mr. Ferreira to be a proven successful entrepreneur. His education and training make him well suited for this role. He has worked in the education testing sector, in the venture capital sector, in US politics in addition to his MBA education from Harvard. His skill set is not only diverse, but it is clear that he has a strong understanding of the educational sector in the US. One of the stories about Mr. Ferreira according to Business Insider, was how he was able to create a test prep strategy so effective that Education Testing Services was forced to remove a question type from some of their exams. His motivation to fix education is also incredibly genuine, is a true believer in the idea that fixing education can lead to dramatic improvements to all aspects of humanity. In an interview, he encouraged new entrepreneurs to take on the big and tough challenges, because there are too many people going after the easy problems.
For Bakpax, it is a little difficult to analyze the quality of his team as the company is currently operating in stealth mode and public information about the company seems to be limited. The only other team members mentioned are the CTO and VP of Marketing, both of whom are only referred to by their first names. However, Bakpax is part of Owl Ventures current portfolio. Owl venture is a venture capital fund focused on funding education technology companies and is currently managing over $600 million dollar in assets. Owl venture’s portfolio and team are both impressive in its depth and breadth, leading me to have greater confidence in Bakpax.
It’s pretty clear that Mr. Ferreira is an incredibly talented individual, but what I found most appealing about his story is how passionate he is about making education more equitable. The products he is designing are made so that they can be accessed not only by elite students and classrooms, but by everyone. I feel inspired by knowing that the ed-tech field isn’t just about maximizing the profits it can earn from schools and classrooms but has products that really were designed to help. I have really been interested in grading applications as of recently and I am very much looking forward to be an early adopter of this technology.