October 5, 2011

VFA Company Spotlight- Kickboard

Each week, Venture for America will be highlighting a different partner company in our “Company Spotlight.” Our first company featured is Kickboard by Drop the Chalk, located in New Orleans, LA. Interview with Kickboard below:

1. Tell us about your company.

When we first launched Kickboard by Drop the Chalk, we had our own classroom experiences to guide us. Our founder is a Teach For America alum and a founding teacher at a charter high school in New Orleans. Our team is made of teachers, school office managers, trainers, and parents. As educators, we know that tracking academic and character progress in the classroom is critical to improving student achievement. Frustrated by the mountains of data and the clunky tools available, we founded Drop the Chalk and built Kickboard to better analyze classroom performance. We are headquartered in New Orleans because this is the epicenter of education reform and we are fortunate to work with some of the most innovative, forward-thinking schools here and across the country as we seek to transform the way teachers measure their impact in the classroom.

2. What does your ideal Venture Fellow look like?

If you…

  • are an exceptional problem-solver, highly analytical, and often find solutions that no one else sees
  • take initiative and look to yourself to get done what needs to get done
  • show grit and zest for learning even when it’s hard
  • are passionate about closing the achievement gap and equipping teachers with tools like Kickboard to make it possible

… then you are our ideal fellow.

3. Provide a fun fact about your company.

We build Kickboard because we believe today’s teachers deserve better than old-fashioned gradebooks, and this drives our user-focused culture. We regularly visit schools to stay in touch with our customers – we call these “reverse field trips”. We prototype, iterate, release new features too early, and embrace failure as an opportunity for learning. We love data and the growth opportunities that data often uncover. And, we are on a constant hunt for the best lunch place ( and get vacation days for Mardi Gras (this is New Orleans, after all).

4. Can you share any daily office routines or what a typical day looks like?

Routine is pretty much the only thing we don’t have at the Kickboard offices – every day in a startup is different! Meetings don’t usually last more than 15 minutes. We set daily goals, share them with the team, and hold each other accountable to staying focused and reaching them. In the past week, we have: responded to 183 customer emails, conducted 5 training workshops for new accounts, coordinated 3 pizza parties for our most enthusiastic schools, Skyped with schools in India who want to use Kickboard, connected with 42 teachers on Twitter, released 2 new features, and our founder taught a 6th grade English class in NYC as part of NBC’s Education Nation. Who knows what next week will bring?

To find out more about Kickboard:

Twitter: @kickboardapp

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