Samantha Rouse had a routine. After she put her three sons to bed, the Kinston, N.C., teacher would next go online to search for word problems and reading samples to use in her K-5 classes. Not everything she found was useful or reliable, as is the case for most web searches, so she took time to vet each exercise.
Then she came across Tailor-ED, a San Francisco-based provider of a platform of open educational resources for math subjects that allows educators to group and assign work to students based on indicators like proficiency. Now, Rouse no longer needs to search for exercises outside of work. “It really is a time saver for me,” says Rouse, who’s taught for about 13 years.
Rouse isn’t the only person to approve of Tailor-ED. The startup has raised a $1.6 million seed round led by Benson Oak Ventures. BrainPOP founder Dr. Avraham Kadar, Elevate Education, Emerge Education, FreshFund, Y Combinator and other angel investors also participated.
Tailor-ED graduated from the Y Combinator startup accelerator earlier this year. At that time, the company only offered math materials for grades three to six. Now, Tailor-ED covers K-8 math. It's used in more than 1,500 schools worldwide, with 70 schools that pay for subscriptions. Most of those paying schools are international.
CEO and co-founder Maayan Yavne says she wants to add English language arts materials next and continue to build partnerships with content publishers.
In addition to its library of resources, Tailor-ED allows educators to group students by indicators including proficiency, confidence in the material and their motivation. After each lesson, students complete exit ticket assessments for subject mastery and social-emotional learning indicators.
A basic, free version of the platform allows teachers to build a limited number of lessons. Educators can pay $9 a month for unlimited student grouping and unlimited lessons. A schoolwide version is available with additional data analysis, customized content integration and professional development workshops.
The startup’s origins trace back to Stanford University, where Yavne and Yael Haramaty, Tailor-ED's co-founder and chief technology officer, met as students in spring 2017. Mutual friends thought a coffee would be perfect for the two Israelis passionate about education and simplifying how teachers found effective lessons. “It was that kind of feeling where we said, ‘We should be working together,’” says Yavne, 38.
The startup has seven full-time employees and will use some of the seed money toward hiring business development and sales staff.
What appealed to Rouse, the North Carolina teacher, was the platform’s data analytics on individual students. She also liked the option for offline lessons. She’s used Tailor-ED since 2018 for her intervention lessons for groups never larger than five students. But Rouse has sold some of her colleagues on using the platform for full-size classes.
She says she looks forward to the English language arts materials the startup will soon offer.