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School messaging app Remind lands on a business model

Messaging apps tend to follow a standard startup model: scale first, generate revenue later. Within education, messaging services ClassDojo and Remind have followed that same playbook, their free mobile apps logging millions of downloads as parents, students, and teachers shift their communications mode from paper to smartphone screen. 

Now Remind, which has raised nearly $60 million in venture capital funding since its founding in 2011, is taking a first step toward monetizing its 35 million users. After months of beta testing, the company has introduced Activities, a product feature that supports the management of events, field trips, fundraisers, and sales. For activities that involve payments, the company charges a 5% fee on the transactions.  

“These things haven’t changed for a very long time,” cofounder and CEO Brett Kopf says of the current system. “Teachers literally have to walk around with cash in envelopes, and admins have a lot of trouble keeping track of financial records.”

Remind will continue to offer its core messaging platform for free, enabling principals and teachers to send home both school-wide updates and individualized notes about student progress. 

Schools may welcome the introduction of Activities, which will streamline their operations. But some parents may wonder if the feature will increase the number of times that public school comes at an added price, exacerbating socioeconomic differences and straining families’ budgets. They may also question whether schools should be devoting so much time to extracurriculars, like sports, rather than their core academic mission. 

Kopf maintains that activities and academics go hand in hand. “Learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom,” he says. “Field trips or chess clubs—those things are really important.”

[Screenshot: courtesy of Remind]AH