Newsela’s founders were educators who imagined the equivalent of Spotify or Netflix for educational content in schools. They designed their SaaS offering for the practical realities of classroom instruction, seeded it with teachers across the country, and then leveraged teacher advocacy to win district-level contracts. When it looked like their high growth could be derailed by school closings during the pandemic, they pivoted to giving content away to demonstrate solidarity with their customers – and reached two-thirds of all schools in the country. Now Newsela is firmly entrenched in the new normal for K-12 education: laptops for every kid, bandwidth for every classroom, and customized, teacher-friendly content that helps dissolve differences in learning levels among students in the same grade. In this podcast, TCV’s Dave Eichler and Newsela co-founder and CEO Matthew Gross to unpack the secrets of the company’s success:
- What separates Newsela from other ed tech companies, both during the pandemic and beyond.
- How Newsela turned its users into a vast virtual marketing force.
- How to succeed at giving away your product strategically – even if you could still charge for it.
- Why playbooks are better than plans in a crisis.
- How to overcome cultural and structural barriers to greater diversity in recruiting and hiring.
For all this and much more, settle back and press play.