Reach Capital - Why We Invested in Curipod - Generative AI Education Edtech


Why We Invested in Curipod

September 18, 2023

When AI can write essays, ace exams, and outperform students on standardized tests, it’s time to rethink how we teach and learn, and the standards by which we measure and celebrate success in education. Generative AI may be the forcing function we need to identify and elevate the most innately human aspects of learning: curiosity, creativity, and learning with others.

Our recent investment in Curipod marks Reach’s first core investment in generative AI. That said, Curipod does not tout itself to be an AI company. Its mission is to spark students’ curiosity and excitement to learn together — values that are central to Reach’s core mission. 

Curipod develops a platform for teachers to deliver interactive lessons, through features such as polls, word clouds, drawing prompts, and structured peer feedback. In addition, Curipod leverages generative AI to save teachers time developing lessons from scratch and to give students individual feedback on written responses. 

Curipod’s pedagogical point of view shines through its AI-generated activities that  provide opportunities for student agency and voice. They also encourage offline peer-to-peer interactions, from think-pair-shares to hands-on mini-projects. The results of these collaborations can be shared with the whole class through Curipod’s platform. 

In many ways, Curipod is an AI-powered successor to Nearpod, which the founding Reach partners first invested in 10 years ago, and which was acquired by Renaissance Learning. Nearpod transformed instruction as devices made their ways into classrooms to enhance and personalize lessons. Today, as AI makes a similar foray, Curipod’s platform continues to elevate instruction by fostering student interactions and providing personalized feedback on writing. Compellingly, it does so while reducing teacher workload, an important factor in these times of teacher burnout and shortages.

A few things that stood out about Curipod for us:

Nordic pedagogical values. Based in Norway, Curipod draws from a rich tradition of educational excellence. Student agency and engagement are foundational to Nordic pedagogy. Collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking are baked into the product. As use of AI becomes pervasive, these skills will grow increasingly important.

Hyper-focus on teachers. The founding team is enthusiastically teacher-centric. Before launching in the U.S. the founders toured schools in several regions, even living with a teacher in West Virginia for a week! This customer focus is evident throughout their organization. 

Teacher hunger for AI. With the explosive popularity of ChatGPT, teachers are hungry to learn about AI — how to take advantage of it in their work, how to stay ahead of students who are power users, and how to help other students not get left behind. Curipod launched their AI product in Feb 2023. More than 150,000 teachers have since created 240,000 lessons that have reached over 1 million students around the world.

Responsible use of AI. The EU passed the first comprehensive regulation on AI. Curipod adheres to the lowest level of risk by always having a “teacher in the loop” before AI-generated content is shared with students. Its responsible use policy is posted clearly on its website. In addition, Curipod is committed to educating teachers and schools about AI. It offers teachers a free, self-paced AI Certification Program, and an AI Accelerator Program for schools that has already received over 500 applications.

Transforming learning. The most compelling factor about Curipod for our investment team is the transformation it has on classrooms and student learning. Teachers we spoke to commented:

  • “Curipod created a space for emotionally engaged learning, discussion, and fun. It opens up curiosity and creativity.” — Tech facilitator in Arkansas
  • “[Students] love it. They feel like they have agency with voting. They elevate their game because they know others are going to see [their responses]. They appreciate the growth that the feedback provides.” — 5th grade teacher in rural Montana
  • “Our faculty head across the hall could hear the difference in my classroom. You have them eating out of the palm of your hand.” — Middle and high school social studies teacher in Scotland

We’re eager to see this type of impact in more classrooms around the world. We’re proud to join Curipod founders Jens, Eirik, and Frikk on their startup journey and are happy to be investing alongside mission-aligned colleagues at Emerson Collective, Sondo Capital, and Edovate Capital. If you are interested in learning about Curipod and joining them, see open positions here.