A new educational app is soaring to the top of the charts among free offerings in the Apple App Store taking the number three spot this week.
Remind, which specializes in communication between teachers, students and parents, added about 400,000 users in one day, with another 300,000 expected on additional days. Because the school year is only just beginning, the company is attributing the growth mainly to teachers preparing for the start of the year. The company hopes to pass the success of Facebook Messenger and top the charts once students begin to download the app.
The app currently has been downloaded by about 1 million teachers and 17 million parents and students. In several states such as Texas and Georgia, 40-50% of teachers are using the app.
The app previously only allowed teachers to communicate to students and parents through SMS, allowing parents who do not own a smartphone to benefit from the app as well. A new feature will now allow students to respond to teacher messages through a set of reply "stamps."
CEO Brett Kopf said teachers will now be able to create take-home quizzes, track attendance or poll students and teachers through the app, making paper handouts and parent e-mails a thing of the past. "Every feature we've ever built has come from teachers," he said.
"You'll see a lot of apps out there that are trying to make it easier to teach or plan lessons, but we're in the business of building relationships between teachers and students and parents," Kopf said. He founded the app with his brother, he said, because a key relationship with a teacher in grade school allowed him to overcome struggles with learning disabilities that had been holding him back.
Kopf said the simplicity of the app is especially popular in low-income areas, where parents have hectic work schedules that may make it hard for them to physically be present to communicate. The app allows parents to be virtually present when they cannot actually do so.
"If we can find a way to engage parents in the classroom two to three times a week, vs. one to two times a year, and if we can make teachers better by making them more efficient, we can have an enormous impact," says Kopf.
Protecting student privacy has been an especially important issue for the company. The app conceals phone numbers, and parents can only connect by inputting a unique classroom code. In an effort to protect against predators, teachers cannot text individual students and the app saves all messages.
The company said the app will remain free for teachers, but they are still deciding on creating in-app purchases for parents. Remind currently has 30 employees and raised $15 million in a Series B funding round last February.