mobile messaging for teachers
Brett Kopf, Co-founder of Remind, talks to us about his private messaging service for teachers . Remind101 provides teachers with a safe way to communicate with their students, send them reminders, notes of encouragements, and keep them on track. Read Brett's interview below to learn more about this new exciting service.
What was the inspiration behind the idea for Remind? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
I have a few learning disabilities, namely ADD and dyslexia. When I was in college, a friend sent me a text message reminding me of an upcoming test and it was eye opening for me that mobile devices could be used to keep students up to date on what was happening in their education.
How is this service different from other similar apps like Kikutext, ClassPager, etc?
We’re teacher obsessed – we build all of our products with a laser focus on teacher needs and making sure we’re solving problems impacting today’s educators. Our service provides a wealth of features that help them get back to their jobs of teaching kids.
Has Remind got the feedback and growth you expected since its launch?
We’ve been blowing away by how many teachers have jumped on the ability to communicate with their students and parents. Over 13 million students, teacher, and parents use Remind.
What's the biggest milestone you had to overcome as a company?
Understanding what your users need is always a challenge – and I’d say that learning to listen to what their problems are and how to address those in a simple way was one of the biggest things we’ve had to overcome.
What is your revenue model?
Right now we’re focused on connecting students, teachers and parents across the country. In the future, we want to build additional premium services and products but our current product will always be free.
Every Founder makes mistakes. Can you share a few of yours and if you were to start again, what might you do differently?
This is a hard question. I make tons of mistakes all the time!
I think the biggest mistake is a little tough to point to. It's lack of focus. There is always so much going on and it's important to remember why 'we' are building this and what really matters. In our case, it's building safe, simple products for teachers. We once went off and tried to build a pretty heavy-duty feature when we were far under resourced. The feature ended up not solving a real problem and was almost unusable. In the end, we scrapped the project and refocused. That was a great lesson and mistake I've made. Focus. Focus. Focus.
What is the coolest feature of Remind in your opinion?
I love our schedule message feature. It’s one of those great examples of something you learn from listening to teachers: they want to set up all their reminders and notes to the students and parents based on the school schedule, so we make it easy for them to set those up.
What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?
Listen to your users and solve problems simply. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.
What are your goals for Remind over the next year or so?
We’re focused on helping teachers communicate with their students and parents. For the next year we’re going to stay focused on helping them by adding simple features that solve their problems.
_________________Update July 31, 2014_________________________
Remind announced today a new version of the product (4.1)!
We followed up with Brett to find out what the new features are and what the future holds for them.
What are the new features in this 4.1 version of Remind?
The feature we are most excited about is that Remind today launches internationally, so teachers, students, and parents outside the US and Canada can now use Remind to stay up-to-date with what happens in the classroom. Teachers abroad can now create classes by using Remind on the web or by downloading the application, add students and parents to their classes, and send messages via push notifications to students’ and parents’ phones.
Secondly, we have listened to teacher feedback and added faster ways to invite students and parents. Students and parents are now able to sign up and receive messages on the mobile app. Teachers can now connect Remind to their mobile address book or choose to add contact information manually. Inviting students and parents to join classes just got significantly faster. We are always trying to make teachers' daily tasks simpler and more efficient so they have more time to connect with students.
This has been a free service so far, do you plan on adding any premium offerings that you can charge for?
Not at this time, no.
How do you see the long term future of Remind?
We will likely launch a localized version of Remind in Q1 next year, depending on the demand we are seeing across countries. We are looking forward to branching out internationally and learning about the specific challenges teachers face in each region so we can work with them to solve them and increase communication between parents, teachers, and students, and ultimately improve education.
I hope everyone stays in touch with us throughout school year 2014-2015, because we have a lot of exciting features in the works, completely as a result of speaking with teachers and figuring out what would make the app better and easier to use for them. We're extremely receptive to feedback--the best way to reach us is by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us (@remindhq). As the product has scaled over the last few years, I think it's become even more of a necessity. Now that we are international, even more teachers will have access to it. We think Remind can empower teachers to build stronger relationships with students and parents, and help scale this type of impact across the world.
About Brett Kopf