GradeSlam‘s CEO Phil Cutler told MTLinTECH that 2016 was a defining year for the online tutoring software company.
The Montreal startup signed several partnership deals with large schools and a large publishing company. It also grew from one to 13 employees and raised nearly $2.5 million in funding, grants and awards.
GradeSlam is an online platform that “improves student retention and success by providing institutions with actionable insights generated through chat-based tutoring.”
The big year started when GradeSlam graduated from the FounderFuel accelerator program at the end of 2015.
Cutler said the first major step in growing his team was understanding the usage metrics of the students using GradeSlam’s app – how long did sessions last, how often did students come back and how many subjects did the average student need help with.
Using those stats and making the necessary adjustments, “grow we did,” he said.
In February GradeSlam started construction on its new 3000 sq ft office, began hosting the MTL EdTech meetups at the new office and “made a commitment to becoming a leader at developing the Montreal educational technology ecosystem.”
In March, GradeSlam was announced as the winner of the TiE Quest Startup Competition in Toronto, a business competition that featured over 500 Canadian startups. GradeSlam beat out four other semi-finalists for the $50,000 prize check.
Later that month Cutler and company also took home top honours at the Fundica Funding Roadshow in Montreal.
In July, GradeSlam closed its first round of institutional funding, raising $1.6 million from Birchmere Ventures, BDC Capital, Anges Quebec, Real Ventures, Robert Luxenberg, Brian Karol and Cutler himself.
“It didn’t take long before we closed our first school, Sacred Heart School of Montreal – one of Montreal’s most prestigious and forward thinking all-girls institutions,” said Cutler. “Since launching in September, we already have contracts with schools across nine states and all of Canada.”
“By the time the fall rolled around, our team had grown to nine, including the inception of GradeSlam Labs, our team of mega-geniuses doing things that the rest of the world wishes they could understand.”
In November, GradeSlam received approval for a $350,000 cash grant from the National Research Council of Canada.
The C100 selected GradeSlam as one of 20 startups in Canada to be invited to the notable 48 Hours in the Valley program in Silicon Valley program in December.
Cutler revealed that GradeSlam cut deals with Canada’s largest private high school, home to over 6000 students, and an exclusive partnership with a large Canadian publisher that will see GradeSlam distributed at the bookstore of every major university and college in Canada.
The CEO wants GradeSlam to “transform education and build a billion dollar business.” The team now sits at 13, and with a big year under its belt it’s one step closer to those goals.