Bellevue’s DreamBox Learning raised $10 million to expand its software offerings that are used in schools to teach math to kids.
What: Bellevue-based DreamBox Learning, which makes math-education software for grades K-8. The company was founded in 2006.
Who: Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO
Confidence booster: DreamBox makes math lessons designed to help students move at their own pace and stay challenged without feeling overwhelmed or stuck.
How it works: Using a technique called “intelligent adaptive learning,” DreamBox’s software moves students to different lessons based on how they are completing math exercises. “One student may get pulled out of a lesson before they feel frustrated and given another opportunity to be successful,” Woolley-Wilson said. “Another may get a more advanced lesson.”
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Teacher collaboration: The idea is to keep kids learning and engaged while also providing valuable data to teachers. Educators get data points about the students’ progress and where they may need extra help. The software was created with the help of teachers, and instructors are still consulted regularly, Woolley-Wilson said.
Multiplying presence: DreamBox is used in about 5,000 schools in 50 states and across Canada. Nearly 1.5 million students actively use the software, and last school year students went through 160 million lessons. Locally, DreamBox is used in, among others, the Bellevue, Renton, Federal Way and Tahoma school districts.
Switch to schools: In 2010, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings bought DreamBox with the help of a venture-capital firm and brought in Woolley-Wilson. The pair helped switch company strategy from selling directly to consumers, usually wealthy parents, to selling to schools. As many people as possible should have access to the programs, Woolley-Wilson said.
The cost: Schools pay $7,000 per year for a DreamBox software license. Smaller schools can choose to pay $25 per student. “We want to create mathematicians,” Woolley-Wilson said. “We want them to think deeply and understand and apply those skills to other STEM fields.”
$10 million insights: DreamBox raised a $10 million series B financing round last week, led by Owl Ventures with participation from Tao Capital Partners. The company plans to use the funding to add more lessons, stay updated with Common Core standards and create more products for teachers to see data points. Woolley-Wilson has expanded the company from a team of 15 to now 125 employees. She expects it will hit 175 people by the end of next year.
— Rachel Lerman