Chilean-born EdTech expands to the US with Mati Barbero at the helm

By Riley Kaminer

For the last three years, Mati Barbero has been helping Latin American companies expand to the US through Miami as part of his role at Mana Tech. Now, he has left Mana and is applying these years of experience and best practices to enable a major Chilean EdTech startup to launch stateside.

In Chile, the 45-person company is known as Appoderado – with an ARR of around $2 million, on top of more than 700,000 users across 120 cities and 650 schools.

Barbero told Refresh Miami that he first came into contact with the Appoderado team as part of a Mana Tech program. He counseled the company to put its exit plans on hold to realize their longtime dream of expanding into the US market, with Barbero as co-founder and COO.

“I loved the team and felt very aligned with their intentions,” he said. “I wanted to support them in developing the US market, so I proposed we do a spinoff.”

And so the American iteration, Schoolin1, was born – launching early this year with a $500,000 pre-seed angel investment.

The platform is designed as a digital port of call for teachers and parents. Through Schoolin1, teachers can upload grades and report cards and communicate directly with parents. Informed decision making is a key feature of the platform, with various statistics and prevention tools to help enable teachers and administrators to monitor attendance, identify high-risk students, and ultimately reduce absenteeism and dropout rates.

While the product is already active, Schoolin1 is in the process of signing its first US partners. Up to now, the Schoolin1 team has been focusing on ample customer research: “It’s been clear that schools aren’t being served properly,” Barbero said of the results thus far. 

“We want to be flexible,” asserted Barbero, noting that the first clients will act as partners to help shape the platform for the needs of US schools. “We’ll start working on non-scalable things, showing our flexibility before achieving scalability.” 

He added that teachers and administrators have told him that most of the tech they use in their schools has not been updated in 10-15 years. In this context, Schoolin1’s modern platform and contemporary UI make it stand apart from the competition. Barbero signaled that Schoolin1 will soon begin to develop AI-powered tools to further differentiate its offering. The platform costs $10 per student per year.

As for Miami, Barbero has an unwavering conviction about our local tech scene. “When it comes to admin like taxes, Miami is an easy choice compared to other cities and states.” He also underscored the shared cultural understanding between Miami and Latin America as a key factor making our city one for successful soft landings. 

“We continue to see a lot of companies moving to Miami, VCs positioning themselves here,” he said. “There’s definitely something going on, and the projections look great.”

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Riley Kaminer