As a smart education technology investor, New Markets has always been focused on product efficacy. Since our earliest days, we’ve asked companies about the precise research underpinnings of their product and sought third party evidence about how their product improves student outcomes or demonstrates ROI. Unfortunately, most products and companies in education technology do not pay enough attention to researching the efficacy of their product – but we’ve always found that the best companies do. The best companies know their impact numbers as well as their financial metrics, and strive for continuous improvement.
Think Through Learning is a portfolio company that is laser focused on impact and we’re proud to have supported its incredible journey, which delivered solid financial return for our investors (when the company was acquired by Imagine Learning last year) and meaningful gains in math learning outcomes for millions of students. Think Through is just one more proof point that venture investors can make money in the education technology space when they:
- partner with management teams focused on delivering impactful solutions that drive student achievement;
- are disciplined about valuation and deal structure at entry; and
- focus on capital efficient, impact-focused growth which enables successful exits.
In 2011 when New Markets first invested in Think Through, the company had an adaptive math platform with great promise. Over the next five years, that platform matured, growing in scope to cover grades 4 through Algebra, and won wider distribution opportunities in K-12 and community colleges based on its tremendous learning outcomes. For the SY 2015-2016, students on Think Through Learning saw significant gains among students starting “Below Basic,” helping more than 50% of those students achieve growth and seeing “Proficient” scores nearly doubling. In order to demonstrate these results, Think Through partnered with a third party benchmark assessment provider to assess students at the beginning of the school year and then after the school year once they had been on the platform.
The graph below represents gains Think Through students made during the 2015-16 school year based on those third party assessments.
Student Gains Experienced on Think Through’s Platform – SY 2015-2016