Billionaire Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has made his first known investment in a start-up.
He was the equal largest investor in a $US4 million ($4.12 million) funding round for Panorama Education, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm that runs and analyses surveys conducted at 4000 American schools.
The angel investment was made through Startup:Education, a foundation which Zuckerberg founded in 2010 with $US100 million to “build a better education system for all students”.
“We are using technology to address some of the most difficult problems in education,” Panorama Education co-founder and CEO Aaron Feuer said in a statement. “We are tremendously excited to have Mark Zuckerberg involved because of his passion for technology and education.”
Feuer founded Panorama Education while an undergraduate at Yale. He did so after serving as a state student council member during high school, which he says opened his eyes to how schools weren’t using the feedback they collected from teachers, parents, and students effectively.
“There was a missed opportunity to understand everyone’s experiences and learn what was and wasn’t working,” he said. “That data is extremely important when addressing issues such as parent involvement, bullying prevention, school safety, and student engagement.”
It costs schools a base fee of just $200 to have Panorama Education come on board and help make sense of their data. The fee goes up the larger the school. So far, Panorama counts the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Connecticut State Department of Education among its clients, which it says gives it coverage of schools serving one million American students.
Other investors included Google Ventures, Ashton Kutcher’s A-Grade Investments, Yale University, and Jeff Clavier’s SoftTech VC.
In a statement, Zuckerberg said he and his wife are “excited to support Panorama Education and its mission”.
“Their company is an exciting example of the way technology can help teachers, parents and students make their voices heard.”