Written by Sam Zern
Edtech startup Possip took home $60,000 at the LaunchTN 3686 Entrepreneur Festival pitch competition last week, beating out eight startups for both the $10,000 crowd favorite award and the $50,000 main competition prize.
“I was incredibly happy to win both prizes and winning both prizes is a blessing - and a testimony,” Shani Dowell, Possip founder and CEO, said.
Dowell started the platform company in 2017 to facilitate communication and feedback between students’ parents and their schools. The name is a mashup of “positive” and “gossip” and the company’s mission is to help school administrators keep track of the pulse of their school community and track trends in feedback they receive.
At the LaunchTN competition, Possip went up against C4 Solution, CPRWrap, DOTReady, Healing Innovations, Idyl Cloud, SecondKeys, Storage Pug and NthCycle, all of which were sponsored by regional entrepreneur centers or organizations. Possip is a member of the EC’s 2018 InFlight cohort.
“The EC as an institution - as well as the staff and other Founders that are part of the EC community - were HUGE cheerleaders throughout the process,” Dowell said. “They posted to help during the crowd favorite, rooted for us and were the ones who recommended us. Their belief in Possip - and in me as a founder, definitely means a ton for what we have been able to do and what we will do in the future.”
Dowell has been working with the EC throughout her business’s life. She pitched Possip early on during PreFlight, a pitch she says was “not very good” but a learning opportunity. Most recently, she went through the EC’s InFlight program, and she was named Entrepreneur-In-Residence for Twende, a new EC program for founders of color.
“The other teams were strong and did a great job so we were proud to know that the judges saw the vision, opportunity and progress so far of Possip,” Dowell siad. “The win was even more joyous in that I got a chance to celebrate it with fellow Google For Startups Black Founders Exchange cohort members and with supporters from the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and Possip.”
The company recently extended their funding round, after surpassing a $750,000 goal, and now has more than 33,000 parents in 16 states on its platform. The team is looking to grow with full time sales and engineering hires, and with the $60,000 prize, Dowell says, the company will be able to go after those hires with confidence.
“Our goal for this year is to grow to 300 schools and close to 150,000 users in our platform,” Dowell said. “In terms of product development, we are excited about the continued evolution of our product to include comparative analytics for schools and districts.”
Dowell was previously featured on an episode of our Navigate podcast: Ep005 Underestimated Founders and Scaling Tech.