An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Michael Chasen (co-founder and CEO) of Class Technologies, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Class Technologies – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
In March of 2020, more than 1.2 billion children around the world were told they could no longer physically go to school, that their classrooms, and their teachers, were moving online. My three kids were among them.
At the time, my children were in 2nd, 8th, and 10th grade, and they were attending three different schools at the grade school, middle school, and high school levels. Suddenly they were all learning from home. But they weren’t learning in the same way, or based on what we were observing, for the same amount of time.
There is no going back. These changes didn’t just disrupt K-12 and higher education – they have profoundly changed corporate training and learning. Now, instead of travelling to a course or taking a recorded course online, companies have universally adopted virtual meetings and learning.
Whether at the school down the street or in corporations around the world, the virtual classroom is here to stay. Class software addresses the gap between in-person and online learning by adding teaching and learning tools to Zoom that bring the connectivity of a real classroom to online educators and learners worldwide.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
We’re solving a big important problem where the need is both urgent and global. We’re working hard to scale fast enough to meet both the global demand and opportunity. Almost immediately after we launched, we had over 20,000 schools and companies asking for our help in creating virtual classrooms, and only 2 salespeople to help them. Needless to say, we’ve scaled up and grown our team significantly since then, but keeping ahead of the demand and scaling fast enough is an epic undertaking. Our growth is electric because Zoom had already laid the wires globally, and we’re now running on top of those wires very quickly.
What does the future hold for Class Technologies?
The disruption and challenges stemming from the pandemic are real, but so are the opportunities to change the way people teach and learn online. Class is dedicated to doing exactly that, and we’re working to deliver Class to every corner of the world.
Class is part of a tech wave leading to the dawn of digital education, a transformation that will reduce the cost of education while bringing it over digital infrastructure to places and people who have never before had access to the promise and potential a quality education unlocks. Our team is honored to bring the age of digital education to those who need it most.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Washington, D.C.?
When I founded Blackboard, there were almost no education technology companies in D.C. Today, D.C. has become a global hotspot for EdTech, and while we have teams around the world, I’m very proud Class can call Washington, D.C. our hometown, as so much progress for education has been made here.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
The most important thing for aspiring entrepreneurs to do is to pick something they are passionate about. Creating a startup means doing something all of the time. It is all encompassing from the moment you wake up until the day is done. I’m texting before I get into the shower, and finishing an email when I get out. Breakfast is not really about food – it’s the breakfast meeting slot. You’re emailing while brushing your teeth. You need to want to do it, love doing it, and be passionate about it even if others aren’t, because if you are going to be successful, it takes 1000% commitment.