Mesa Cloud: A Pathway to Academic Success
April 7, 2021 | Ashley Brindamour
Accurate tracking of a student’s progress towards graduation is an essential, basic task for all schools. However, for school counselors — who are often in charge of tracking graduation requirements — it is actually a highly manual, time-consuming, and error-prone process. Current tracking methods involve counselors printing out binders full of student data and performing audits by hand, resulting in human error and potential bias.
Mesa Cloud, an Alumni Ventures portfolio company, improves graduation tracking through its student progress and data aggregation platform for grades K through 12. The company is based in Austin, Texas, and supports over 150,000 high school students across the country.
Mesa Cloud’s technology offers many benefits, including:
- Real-time identification of students in incorrect classes
- Automatic detection of available student opportunities
- A digital safety net for disadvantaged students and students of color
- Assistance in student academic and career planning
Student Wellness and Anti-Bias
According to a report from The Education Trust, African American and Latino students are less likely to be placed in higher-level courses (e.g., AP courses) than white students. Mesa’s technology platform is addressing this bias by reducing the possibility of manually altered student documents. Additionally, Mesa Cloud’s platform reduces the time-consuming need for counselors to manually track progress — allowing them to shift their focus to address higher value-add concerns such as student mental health, socio-emotional wellness, and college or career options.
What We Liked About the Deal
Technological Solution: Mesa is addressing a critical challenge for the U.S. public school system by tracking students and ensuring their documentation is fair and accurate, all while reducing administrative burden and minimizing errors.
Limited Competition: Currently, Mesa Cloud is the only product in the market for tracking graduation requirements, giving the company a first-mover advantage. Mesa has already built credibility with schools, giving them an advantage over other potential competitors who will need to build relationships with superintendents and counselors.
Sizeable Market Opportunity: Mesa is building a student data aggregation platform for the broader K-12, post-secondary, junior college, and vocational schools, representing a $6 billion opportunity in the U.S.
Well-Developed Team: Mesa Cloud’s CEO, John Kennedy, is a promising young entrepreneur who developed the beta version of Mesas’ software at age 16 and made the company’s first sale to Houston’s school district. He has since brought on Co-founder John Ruff, a former EdTech executive and teacher. Additionally, the company’s Executive Chairman Kent Hudson is a former Nasdaq CEO who sold his EdTech company DudeSolutions for $570 million to Clearlake Capital in 2019.
How We Are Involved
Alumni Ventures’ Ring Ventures (for Texas A&M former students and friends of the community) deployed capital in Mesa Cloud’s Seed round led by Draper Associates.
Mesa Cloud was also a deal in Alumni Ventures’ Anti-Bias Fund — a portfolio of ~20-30 diverse companies led by a diverse founding team and/or featuring a business model addressing systemic biases.