We were introduced to Grow.net by its then lead investor who wanted to add to the capital base a deep pocketed investor who could also take a more active role in shaping the company’s strategy.
We stepped in to become the lead backer of Grow and worked closely with David Coleman (founder and CEO) and his talented team to guide the strategy and eventual sale of the business.
Key Insights and Vision
No-Child-Left-Behind legislation for primary and secondary schools significantly increased the stakes of standardized test results for teachers, administrators, and school districts. Despite the growing importance of these tests, the reporting of test results was poor.
Grow believed that assessment results could be a powerful tool for supporting teaching and learning. By breaking down the standardized tests into the specific concepts being assessed, Grow was able to offer test reporting that for the first time was truly insightful and actionable on an individual student basis.
Opportunity to leverage Grow’s insights into the key concepts measured by standardized tests and its unique digital printing platform, to create the leading provider of 1) customized reports for teachers, parents, administrators and students and of 2) targeted instructional material designed specifically for each student based on their areas of strength and their development needs.
Company’s Strategic and Operational Achievements
- We worked with David and his team to define the go to market and pricing strategies. Elements of which included:
- Proactively seeking the support of teachers’ unions and school administrators — if they are to be held accountable for test results, they should have results reporting that is actionable
- Pushing for assessment reporting as a separate element in each school district’s standardized test requests for proposals
- Adopting a "Switzerland" policy — Grow was open to partnering with standardized test companies on a district by district basis. The addition of Grow to a testing company's proposal provided a significant advantage to that testing company.
- Shortly after our initial investment, Grow was awarded the reporting contract for grades 3-8 in New York City. The company went onto win contracts for additional markets including Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, New Jersey, and California.
- Given Grow’s success, it was approached by several of the testing company's regarding a potential acquisition. Three and a half years after our first investment in Grow, the company was sold to McGraw Hill. We made 3.5X our investment from the sale.