Monday, March 4, 2013
After Deals With Pearson & McGraw Hill, Pathbrite Adds $4M To Take Digital Portfolios Beyond The Campus
Last June, online portfolio startup Pathbrite announced that it had raised $2.5 million in Series A financing led by Rethink Education, alongside a strategic investment from ACT, the college and career readiness assessment company.Now, these investors are ready to double down on the startup’s approach to next-gen online portfolio management, as Pathbrite announced today that it has raised $4 million in series A2 financing — the second tranche of the round it completed in June. This time, ACT opted to lead the round, backed by participation from ReThink, Serious Change’s Joshua Mailman and a handful of angel investors.
With its new capital, the startup has now raised just over $8 million in total to date from investors including those above, as well as Ben and Jerry’s Ben Cohen and Zynga co-founder Steve Schoettler. Pathbrite plans to use its additional funding to continue its product development and focus on expanding its reach (and customer acquisition strategy) within higher education as well as K-12 and beyond.
As competition grows at colleges and among those looking for jobs, students and graduates alike are looking for new, better ways to stand out from the crowd. As online education becomes increasingly popular, academic credentials themselves (and the value they represent) are changing. Traditionally, resumes and diplomas have held the most water among institutions and employers, but today, those with diplomas and LinkedIn profiles are no longer in the minority.
The key to finding employment in a competitive workforce is being able to show prospective employers what makes you unique, whether that be in the skills you’ve learned, the projects you’ve completed or the hacks that have landed you on Hacker News. But, again, one line on a sheet of paper or a blurb on your LinkedIn profile no longer seems the most effective way to showcase your skills and accomplishments and communicate what makes you unique.
That’s why we’re beginning to witness the rise of the digital portfolio, which is, as it sounds, an online collection of your personal, academic and professional projects and accolades — a place to present your writing, presentations, hacks, certificates, diplomas and everything in between. For engineers and developers, one of the most popular examples would be GitHub. In an increasingly digital world, online portfolios can present the best opportunity to showcase your talents, representing an evolution of the About.me brand of personal homepages and business cards.
Pathbrite launched publicly last summer to become the go-to destination to create digital portfolios by offering anyone and everyone the chance to use its simple templates to create more robust online records of their personal and professional accomplishments. From the beginning, Pathbrite has catered expressly to college and high school students, but, over time, its scope has broadened, and today its portfolio creation tools can be used by anyone looking to build a three-dimensional, digital resume.
The platform allows users to include content from a variety of media — whether it be content from YouTube, Google Drive, LinkedIn, Khan Academy badges or Coursera certificates — enabling them to quickly add and/or import that content from their hard drive or from the Web. Once added, users can include descriptions for each particular element of your portfolio, and so on, with the goal being to enable a digital identify that is deeper and more descriptive than those offered by existing platforms.
In January, as reported by The Journal, Pathbrite added “Portfolios for Educators” to its platform, a tool that essentially allows teachers to help their students create their digital portfolios (and to create portfolios of portfolios in order to organize student work for review).
The new offering lets teachers create a course on Pathbrite’s platform, choose how to pay for the portfolio — whether that be by having students pay the startup’s annual fee or by using a school-purchased license — then enter class info, course name and subject, as well as invite other teachers and students to join directly. Students can then store that portfolio next to their existing work and import and add content as they would for their own personal portfolio.
As part of launching this new option for teachers, Pathbrite announced a deal with Pearson that would see the publisher integrate the startup’s portfolio platform into its cloud-based LMS for online courses, called LearningStudio, according to The Journal. CEO Heather Hiles and company have been hard at work securing partnerships with other institutions and education companies that will allow the startup to increase its footprint, expand distribution and create monetization opportunities, like its strategic partnership with ACT, McGraw-Hill Stanford University’s registrar, for example.
Presently, Pathbrite’s platform is free for teachers and faculty, while students pay $10/year for access. Going forward, the startup wants to ensure that students and teachers can manage their portfolios from any device and platform, mobile or desktop. While it already enables that to a degree via storage in the cloud and web-based access, the startup will be looking to release its own native mobile apps at some point in the near future — and add to its base of 100 colleges and universities.
For more, find Pathbrite at home here.