Modo Labs Completes Series B Round // An Interview with Andy Kaplan, Education Growth Partners

Submitted by on Tue, 07/12/16

Recently, Education Growth Partners, headquartered in Stamford CT, completed a Series B round of investment in Modo Labs. EGP is the premier growth private equity firm dedicated solely to providing growth capital to proven, high potential education services companies that offer compelling growth solutions addressing unmet needs in training and education, specifically in K12, higher education, corporate and life-long learning sectors.

Modo Labs sat down with Andy Kaplan, a Managing Partner at EGP, to get his thoughts on the future of learning, higher education, and the firm’s investment in Modo Labs.

Can you tell us about your background?
Like much of EGP’s team, I have extensive operating and investment experience in the education industry. I’ve spent my entire 29-year career in education, half as an operator of education businesses and half as an investor in quality education companies. I’ve developed educational software and led the Educational Technology group at Scholastic. I also led several technology enabled service businesses at Kaplan.

Why did you become an investor?
In 2000, I became one of the original partners in a private equity firm focused exclusively on the education industry, and in 2014 I joined Education Growth Partners. Investing in education firms not only allows me to take advantage of my professional background, but also have a big impact on educational technologies and services that could make a difference in areas that I care about deeply.

What is EGP’s investment philosophy?
EGP invests exclusively in education companies. EGP defines education broadly: it includes “traditional” areas like Pre-K, K-12, Postsecondary, and Corporate Training and institutions, content, technology, and services within these areas. But it also includes any business in which knowledge, learning, or behavior change plays a key role. Our portfolio companies improve educational outcomes; improve the prospects of employability; or enable educational institutions to run more efficiently, allowing improved allocation of educational resources.

We also invest to maximize impact and returns while minimizing risk, and as a result we invest in profitable, high growth companies.

What important trends do you see in higher education?
One important trend is that as the cost of a college degree continues to increase, schools are facing pressure to demonstrate their value and to recruit and retain the best students. Technology is playing an important role in creating new models for student success and IT needs to scale rapidly to help implement these new solutions.

Do you think that mobile plays an important role in the future of education?
Absolutely. We see mobile growth accelerating in higher ed. The millennials were the first generation to do everything on their phones. And now we’re seeing the first wave of the next generation–known as Gen Z or the Plurals–entering college and they are even more connected. They don’t know life without a smartphone. Universities can no longer afford not to have a mobile presence if they want to meet the expectations of students, ensure their success, and remain competitive.

Why did EGP invest in Modo Labs?
EGP is very excited about its investment in Modo Labs. Modo meets our investment criteria as a profitable and high growth company. More importantly, Modo Labs’ platform fills a critical need in higher education. Its best-in-class solution enables universities and other organizations to successfully launch and achieve large-scale mobile initiatives with relatively small investments and few resources. Yet unlike lightweight quick app or event builder products, apps created on Modo’s platform are highly sophisticated and deeply integrated with a customer’s information systems, becoming an integral part of an organization’s digital strategy.

What we were really blown away by was the combined ease of use, communication features, and power of the Modo platform. Modo enables even the least technical staffer or student to create highly compelling multi-campus and multi-role mobile apps for any purpose – apps that would typically be difficult to implement by even professional developers. The Modo platform is designed so that an entire university can simultaneously contribute to a common mobile app, from marketing and communications to admissions, to student affairs, to students, to IT. Literally everybody on campus can play an important part in creating an engaging and innovative mobile experience for the benefit of prospective students, current students, alumni, staff and anybody else affiliated with the institution.

What do you see as the future prospects for Modo Labs?
Obviously we’re extremely bullish. As mobile apps have become a “must-have” at university campuses around the county, many schools simply don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to deliver on all the university’s mobilization needs. That’s where Modo Labs comes in. With Modo, any business unit or university department can create or contribute to a deep, rich mobile experience that positively impacts student engagement and retention.

Modo Labs already has a great reputation as a leader in the higher education market. Top Ivy institutions, large state schools, and community colleges are already using the platform. We’ve been extremely impressed by Modo’s customer focus and the strong regard customers have for Modo and the product. We heard so many wonderful stories from their customers as we built up our relationship with the company. Modo is on a great path and we think that the boost of capital provided by EGP will only further enhance the company’s ability to scale its product development, customer support, and marketing efforts even more rapidly to meet the growing demand.

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