Minnesota Hustle: How Kidblog went from 0 to 2 million users

by Clay Collins

Categories

Welcome TECHdotMN contributor Clay Collins for the first ‘Minnesota Hustle’ video interview. The series is aimed at facilitating deeper conversations with local tech entrepreneurs who make it happen.  Questions considered by Kidblog cofounder Matt Hardy:

  • When did Kidblog start and where is it today?
  • Who is on the team and what are their roles?
  • How did you build the userbase?
  • How did you approach fundraising?
  • What local events did/do you attend?
  • How much time do you devote to Kidblog?
  • What keeps you going?
  • How did you validate the need & product?
  • What influences you locally?
  • How would you critique the local tech scene?
  • How do you want to give back?

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/hardy101 Matt Hardy

    Clay, thank you for the opportunity to share Kidblog’s story. Great interview (if I do say so myself)! I’m happy to connect with anyone who’s interested in talking and thinking about startups and entrepreneurship – in the comments here, over coffee, or @hardy101 on Twitter

    Looking forward to future segments!

    • http://tech.mn Jeff Pesek

      Matt – Thanks for taking the time to talk with with Clay. I have a few questions:

      1) How does your user acquisition strategy specifically function and how do you plan to go from 2 million users to, say, 10 million?

      2) How much runway does your current funding provide and what do you project the overall capitalization needs for Kidblog to be?

      3) How big is the market for the product?

      4) What are some question marks surrounding the future of the startup?

      5) What entrepreneurs do you admire (near or far) and why?

      6) What types of outcomes are you seeing from users, and how do you think think that tools like Kidblog can impact learning in a broader sense?

      Thanks, Matt.

      • http://twitter.com/hardy101 Matt Hardy

        Jeff,

        Thanks for the questions. Let’s get right to it:

        1) Teachers are our pipeline. We’ve deliberately avoided a top-down, school district (i.e. enterprise) sales model because it’s slow and resistant to change. Kidblog is safe for students, so teachers feel comfortable integrating it in their classrooms without a prerequisite “blessing” from above. Ironically, when administrators see Kidblog’s impact in the classroom, they come to us for ways to broaden our scope in their school. It’s essentially the Yammer model.

        2) Our initial seed round gives us 8-10 months of runway, depending on how quickly we build out the team. We’re a pretty lean operation, but adding engineers adds to the burn rate quickly. As such we’re currently opening up a follow-on angel round to give us a full 18 months while growing the team to 8-10.

        3) Education is the second largest market in the US, behind healthcare. Software is starting to supplant traditional textbook purchasing with iPads in schools spreading like wildfire. While new dollars aren’t being spent on education in the US, schools are changing the way existing dollars are spent.

        4) When to monetize is still a question. We consider ourselves in a value-creation phase right now. When to start extracting that value remains to be seen.

        5) Matthew Dornquast of Code42 embodies so many great qualities of entrepreneurship and leadership. Scott Burns of GovDelivery has been a fantastic advisor. Jason Cohen of WP engine is awesome. And (of course) Clay Collins – check out his Mixergy interview(s).

        6) Kidblog believes that kids’ voices matter. The first step in making an impact is getting students comfortable sharing their voice with an authentic, global audience – teachers scaffold this process. The next step is for students to use their voices to effect change in their own lives and in the lives of others. The digital revolution in education is creating a democratization of learning and Kidblog can be at the center of it.

      • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

        Great questions, Jeff. I’m putting these in my interview swipe file and will make a note to consider these questions for most of the future interviews. So thanks for that.

        –Clay

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      Matt: thank you for making the time to share with the MN community. And thanks also for your generosity in answering question in the comments. Great interview. And an excellent first.

  • http://twitter.com/kalpeshplanet Kalpesh Joshi

    Nice work Clay. Excited about the future of kidblog and the budding MN Tech scene – these guys (Matt & Dan) are the real deal with the pay-it-forward mentality. If we continue this trend (which I think MN is generally open to) of MN founders helping founders, then we’ll start to see more of that cash-ready-investor type become more available.

    Two other question for Matt:
    1. There’s a lot of start-ups for online courses (coursera, udacity, udemy, etc.) that are jumping up, do you see Kidblog as being adjacent (i.e. students giving feedback) to those learning experiences, or competitors, since they have built in message boards/forums for users (altho it’s an open system)?

    2. Would you ever entertain the idea of a closed “enterprise” style, customized Kidblog application for a school district as a service to build additional revenue (i.e. Oracle model), or pay by application/feature (i.e. Google for Biz)??

  • http://twitter.com/kalpeshplanet Kalpesh Joshi

    Nice work Clay. Excited about the future of kidblog and the budding MN Tech scene – these guys (Matt & Dan) are the real deal with the pay-it-forward mentality. If we continue this trend (which I think MN is generally open to) of MN founders helping founders, then we’ll start to see more of that cash-ready-investor type become more available.

    Two other question for Matt:
    1. There’s a lot of start-ups for online courses (coursera, udacity, udemy, etc.) that are jumping up, do you see Kidblog as being adjacent (i.e. students giving feedback) to those learning experiences, or competitors, since they have built in message boards/forums for users (altho it’s an open system)?

    2. Would you ever entertain the idea of a closed “enterprise” style, customized Kidblog application for a school district as a service to build additional revenue (i.e. Oracle model), or pay by application/feature (i.e. Google for Biz)??

    • http://twitter.com/hardy101 Matt Hardy

      Kalpesh,

      Great questions.

      1. These course delivery & learning management systems are creating new ways to deliver content to (or “at”) students. Kidblog is the flipside of that coin, giving students a platform to reflect, respond, and create their own content with evidence of their individual learning and thinking.

      2. We do envision an enterprise option for school districts. It remains to be seen how that option will scale, but could be an important source of revenue when forming relationships with schools.

    • http://www.marketingshow.com Clay Collins

      Thanks, Kalpesh. Matt is a great interviewee and made this a lot of fun.

      –Clay

Sponsors