‘As a startup founder, it’s so important to be in an environment that is growing, expanding, and has a hunger for success and growth’ – Vlada Lotkina, co-founder and CEO of ClassTag
South Florida is now home to another rising star in the EdTech space. Last month, Vlada Lotkina, co-founder and CEO of ClassTag, made the move to Miami.
The startup, which has reportedly received $8.9 million in venture capital funding, has developed a platform that facilitates communications between parents and teachers.
Lotkina immigrated from Ukraine to the US in 2006 to undertake an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, before landing a New York-based consulting role at BCG. She then worked as a senior director and practice lead at data storage consultancy Dell EMC.
Lotkina told Refresh Miami that the inspiration to migrate to Miami from New York came on a winter vacation last year. “When I was here, I met a few of my founder friends, and they brought me to events,” she explained. “I felt the energy, and it felt like something very exciting was happening here.”
She continued: “As a startup founder, it’s so important to be in an environment that is growing, expanding, and has a hunger for success and growth. Seeing some of Miami’s entrepreneurs really opened up my eyes to this opportunity.”
Just a few months later, and Lotkina and her daughter have already put down roots in the Magic City. “She loves her school in Miami, and we found a great place to live that is substantially cheaper than New York,” Lotkina said. “I’m loving it.”
While ClassTag’s 15-person team is globally distributed, there is already one employee in Tampa, and another one planning to move to South Florida in the near future. As the startup continues to grow, Lotkina signaled that she hopes to increase the company’s South Florida footprint.
Lotkina predicts that South Florida will become a hub for EdTech: “EdTech is emerging as one of the core verticals in Miami tech.” She highlighted Nearpod’s recent exit as a particularly exciting development in the local scene.
ClassTag’s suite of products includes a platform that can be viewed on web browsers or through an app. According to Lotkina, “it not only collects and retains information so there is a single source of truth for anything that parents might need to know, but it also pushes this information out according to parent preference.” Additionally, the platform automatically translates content into over 100 languages, increasing accessibility and breaking down communication barriers between teachers and parents.
The startup has a few different lines of business. Their primary revenue source had traditionally been partnerships with brands like Amazon, H&M, and Clorox. These sponsorships ensure that parents and teachers can use the platform for free.
However, taking advantage of Winston Churchill’s adage, “never let a good crisis go to waste,” ClassTag emerged from the pandemic with two new business lines. One of those two is enterprise SaaS, whereby ClassTag offers an all-in-one communications hub for school systems to purchase.
The other new income stream is eCommerce, where donations collected for teachers can be used to purchase items for the classroom – everything from crayons to cameras for Zoom. “Coming from Ukraine, I was shocked to learn that 92% of teachers are spending on average $500 out of pocket on essential supplies,” Lotkina explained.
ClassTag has received more than half a million dollars of donations for teachers. For Lotkina, this validates her thesis that ClassTag’s platform “unlocks the power of community to support teachers.” Five million parents and teachers in 25,000 schools across the US currently use ClassTag’s products.
Through the pandemic, Lotkina reports that the ClassTag team has seen significant growth and is on track to triple revenue this year. Their enterprise business is expanding particularly rapidly, having experienced more than 10x growth over the last year.
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