Parlay Ideas – 20 October
Parlay is an educational technology tool that helps teachers facilitate meaningful, measurable, and inclusive discussions inside and outside the classroom. Teachers can use this application to measure the quantity and more importantly the quality of student contributions, as well as give feedback to their students in real-time.
Since their initial launch, Parlay has been able to garner a multitude of achievements that includes amassing over 44,000 teachers (1,400% YoY growth) to the platform, a 485% YoY increase in revenue, and continuing to grow their current 140+ school customer base.
Parlay foresees their biggest hurdle in the coming year to be maintaining a high growth rate. They plan to overcome this by introducing a Freemium option for Parlay. The most valuable and far-reaching EdTech companies have grown on the back of a freemium model, and now this has become an industry standard. Similarly, Parlay accounts that word-of-mouth is by the far the biggest driver of growth in their business as they have spent almost no money on Sales and Marketing, and have an LTV:CAC ratio of 6.7. But the inability for individual teachers to use a limited version of Parlay for free forever is still limiting the number of teachers who sign-up and try Parlay in their classrooms. Parlay believes that they can continue to grow exponentially once a freemium model is released. Doing so will require significant additional investments in the product to establish the foundation for a valuable free option and material improvements for the premium version.
There are a lot of ed-tech companies competing for the time, attention, and dollars of teachers and schools. Some notable competitors are:
- Padlet – a collaboration tool that is used in many classrooms around the world. However, what this platform falls short of is a solution that focuses explicitly on discussions – online or live in the classroom – as Parlay does. It also doesn’t have a content library.
- Nearpod/PearDeck – both of these tools are interactive ‘presentation’ or ‘slideshow’ tools that teachers use to communicate information and engage students in fast activities such as quizzes, polls, and short answer questions. Parlay is fundamentally different – it creates student-driven discussions where their own unique ideas and opinions are the centre of the learning process.
- Canvas – a learning management system (jack of all trades). Its online discussion activity is not nearly as engaging as Parlay’s. It does not have secret identities, the same level of engaging UI, the library of discussion topics, or comparable analytics. In addition, Parlay offers a unique feature known as their Live RoundTable module, which is a core part of their offering.
- Flipgrid – FlipGrid does not support live discussions which is a core to Parlay’s offering and customer needs. While Flipgrid is solely focused on video communication, Parlay will allow students to submit video, audio, and written submissions in the online discussion module. Furthermore, the reporting/analytics functionality on FlipGrid is very minimal and not a focal point of the application. Parlay’s goal is to help teachers quantify and assess soft skills like critical thinking and collaboration, making analytics a core part of their offering.
Bobby McDonald, Founder & CEO – Bobby has worked in financial services and as a solutions engineer at an enterprise SaaS company before starting Parlay – a project that he first envisioned 10 years ago in second-year university.
Anna Lisa Martin, CRO – Anna Lisa is a former teacher in China and Ontario. Her main priorities are sales and customer success. She also does support, Universe management, and operations.
Cynthia Feo, Instructional Strategist – Cynthia is a certified Ontario teacher. Her primary role is to provide teacher support, creating marketing collateral, generating discussion topics, and managing the Parlay Universe.
Joao Pinto, Technical Lead – Joao has been a full-stack software engineer for 5 years. He is the development team leader for Parlay’s development team.
Parlay’s vision is to educate the future whereby students will be equipped with the tools and skills to be successful in their career paths. To further their growth and initiatives, Parlay is looking to raise $2,000,000 in capital. Once secured, they plan to allocate the funds to:
- Introduce a Freemium option to accelerate growth and increase stickiness.
- Build a team to create, curate, and distribute Universe discussion topics.
- Invest in thought-leadership content, SEO, and paid influencer marketing.
- Develop/enhance features to increase stickiness and competitive differentiation.
- Enable teachers to connect their class discussions from anywhere in the world.
- Hire account managers to close inbound opps and upsell existing users/customers.
- Hire additional instructional strategists to train + support growing user base.
Previously, Parlay had raised 2 substantial rounds of financing — one Angel for $400K and the other Angel/Pre-Seed for another $450K in 2020.
As they look towards further expansion, Parlay plans to scale up their development efforts, bring on new instructional strategists, content writers, and account managers to continue to drive word-of-mouth growth, support for their teachers, and close new opps and renewals.
Currently, Parlay has a free-trial system for teachers. Additionally, a further option includes individual teacher licenses for $160 USD/year, department 5-packs ($720 USD/year), and school-wide licenses for $3.00/student per year.
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