Higher Education, Small Business & Startups, and Technology

GR Current backs online education platform

December 21, 2015
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An online-based comprehensive curriculum and plan management tool for teachers will receive business acceleration services through GR Current after applying to the Business Accelerator Fund program to launch its new website and marketing content to support its continued expansion throughout the Midwest.

The services

Donn Smith, chief executive officer at Grand Rapids-based Curriculum Crafter LCC, said during the last 14 months there has been tremendous improvement to the online platform, but the services will allow for a new design to reflect the release of its product and all new marketing content.

“The Business Accelerator Fund we were awarded is a little convoluted in that the money is awarded to GR Current, and they in turn pay for the services,” said Smith. “We needed a professional online image that could tell our story. The funds through GR Current are critical for us.”

Curriculum Crafter has signed contracts with third parties to upgrade its existing website and accelerate marketing strategies. Scot Dodd, startup analyst at GR Current, indicated as a grant from the state, the money is used to “contract with vendors on behalf of the company.”

“The next step, or milestone, is to commercialize their product outside of the state,” said Dodd. “They were a great candidate for the BAF program because they demonstrated a very clear path of where they are now, and with help, what they’ll be able to achieve in other states.”

Smith said the new version can “reduce the time and energy required of educators to create and manage curriculum on their own” and the online tool “has been a huge hit.”

“We have not gone out for any investment before this,” said Smith. “We have been organically growing it through renewal fees the existing customer base was providing, but our plan all along was to grow through the Midwest and nationwide.”

The tool

Curriculum Crafter provides teachers with content, lessons, resources, accommodations and assessments aligned with both Michigan Content Expectations and the Common Core Standards.

The cost of the online tool is based on the number of students, ranging from up to 50 students at $5,000 per district to approximately 10,000 students at $19,000 per district. Pricing allows access for all district teachers, two hours of onsite user training, and two hours of web-based administrator training.

The company

Smith indicated Curriculum Crafter began as a private-public partnership with Kent Intermediate School District in July 2014 to acquire the rights for the tool they had developed for teachers.

“They are an educational institution; they can’t proactively sell and market and act like a business,” said Smith. “They felt they had the foundations of a tool that was extremely valuable, but could be even more valuable if we could have economy of scale and build it out.”

Curriculum Crafter is already in use in more than 300 school districts and Smith indicated the company will be announcing partnerships with the Illinois Principal Association, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators and the Indiana Association of School Principals in the coming months.

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