ClassDojo’s founders change teacher’s lives for the better

ClassDojo founders Sam Choudhary and Liam Don both have backgrounds in education. Choudhary had spent the majority of his adult life educating and acting as an education consultant. Don had grown up in a household of educators and himself had taught many classes as a doctoral candidate in computer science. This strong background of both founders led to an interest in identifying and solving education’s big problems. They both took a leap of faith and moved to San Francisco in 2010 to pursue their dream of becoming successful education entrepreneurs.

A nail in search of a hammer

Neither founder had any certain convictions about what kind of tool they wanted to develop, only that they wanted to solve problems that educators faced. They identified teachers in the K-8 education sector as being under served by software. At the beginning they placed thousands of calls and met with hundreds of teachers in person. This led them to recognize the main problem of elementary educators – they spend gigantic portions of the day dealing with behavior issues.

Once the problem was identified, Don and Chaudhary began reading everything they could on how to positively affect behavior in younger children. Eventually, they came upon the theories of such psychologists as Carol Dweck, James Heckman and Angela Duckworth. These all emphasized creating classroom environments conducive to learning through positive reinforcement of behavior. Adopting these principles, ClassDojo has created software based around positive incentives that has received a flood of glowing feedback from teachers across the country.

The founders were able to raise over $31 million in venture capital in the first two years of the enterprise. This enabled them to concentrate on launching a product and getting it distributed to as many classrooms as possible. As of the beginning of 2016, ClassDojo was present in over 90% of U.S. schools teaching grades K-8. And there is still a great deal of room to expand. ClassDojo has not been widely distributed overseas and even in the U.S., there are many teachers who haven’t yet adopted it.

Ultimately, Don and Chaudhary see teachers themselves as being the most effective sales force for the app. While all features thus far have been free for all users, the app will remain completely free for teachers forever. Eventually, Chaudhary and Don expect to start adding premium features that parents will want to buy. This is the long term business model on which they see ClassDojo settling.
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