‘Two Screens for Teachers’ to supply extra monitors in Seattle and puts out call for help in other cities

The two-screen setup of an elementary school teacher in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Two Screens for Teachers)

Remote teaching is about to get a little bit easier for thousands of teachers in Seattle Public Schools. The nonprofit organization “Two Screens for Teachers” announced Tuesday that it’s purchasing a second computer monitor for every teacher who needs one, and plans to deliver about 3,000 monitors at a value of around $430,000.

Started by a small group of Seattle startup veterans, Two Screens for Teachers aims to boost teacher productivity through added technology, helping to make remote instruction less stressful during the ongoing pandemic.

Matt Lerner and Mike Mathieu are behind the idea. They previously co-founded Walk Score, a Seattle startup that sold to Redfin in 2014. Their hope is that their latest cause will spread beyond Seattle and they can inspire techies in other cities to purchase monitors for the thousands of teachers who need them.

PREVIOUSLY: Seattle startup vets launch ‘Two Screens for Teachers’ effort to help improve remote instruction

“I’ve spent my career in tech on two screens and can’t imagine working without them,” Lerner said in a news release. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve asked our teachers to become tech experts, on top of doing the crucial job of educating our children. A second screen lets teachers see their students on one screen and their lesson plans on the other. This is a simple productivity solution that people in tech centers like Seattle take for granted.”

“Having two monitors is incredibly helpful for teaching,” Seattle elementary school teacher Jannah H. said. “I use my second monitor to display my lesson plans and weekly schedule. I also sometimes use it to keep the video of my student’s faces open while I open a lesson powerpoint on my computer.”

She

Seattle startup Skilljar raises $33M as pandemic sparks demand for its customer education software

Skilljar co-founders Sandi Lin (left) and Jason Stewart. (Skilljar Photos)

The third time really has been a charm for Sandi Lin and Jason Stewart.

The entrepreneurs began their startup journey in 2013 when the former Amazon employees launched Everpath, a Techstars Seattle company that tried to build a Yelp for online classes. They soon pivoted and began targeting independent instructors, offering them a platform to host online education.

“I call those my first two failed startups,” Lin said this week.

It was the third evolution of the original idea that really took off. Lin and Stewart saw a lot of interest from enterprise companies needing help building customer education experiences. They ultimately launched Skilljar, which has now delivered more than 10 million hours of instruction and 100 million lessons via on-demand and virtual live training programs hosted on its learning management platform.

Skilljar is set to grow even more after raising a fresh $33 million Series B round led by Insight Partners, with participation from existing investors Mayfield, Trilogy Equity Partners, and Shasta Ventures. Total funding to date is north of $50 million. 

The Seattle startup provides the back-end technology and software that lets companies build cloud-based training and onboarding programs for both their own employees and for end users. The company has more than 300 customers, including Smartsheet, Tableau, Cisco, Zendesk, and others. For example, Tableau uses Skilljar to power its Tableau eLearning training courses, while Nintex taps Skilljar to help lower “how-to” support tickets.

Skilljar also offers a built-in assessment and certifications engine, as well as analytics on learner activity and integrations with various other software tools.

Tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft have built their own customer education platforms, but Skilljar hopes to provide the same service for thousands of other companies that don’t have the

Seattle Public Schools still doesn’t know for sure how many students have sufficient internet for school

Since COVID-19 first shut down in-person learning, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has distributed devices and internet for thousands of students. But for months, district officials haven’t be able to answer these questions with certainty:

How many kids actually need the technology? And does it work well enough to meet remote learning demands?

They’re questions central to conducting school online and closing digital access and learning gaps, especially for Seattle, whose schools appear to be staying remote for the foreseeable future.

But after school buildings closed last spring, Seattle and other districts didn’t take complete stock of how many students needed devices and internet, instead relying on student poverty rates and drawing estimates from surveys. As a result, data on technology access for students during the pandemic has been spotty.

About 4,000 of SPS’ over 50,000 students haven’t been engaging regularly with online learning this fall, half of whom the district suspects are having issues with devices or connectivity, according to district spokesperson Tim Robinson.

In some cases, the lack of firm information has made estimating the appropriate response to the problem harder and more time-consuming, especially when it comes to internet connectivity. And the main solution offered by school districts — discounted or free plans offered by internet service providers — sometimes results in internet access too slow to handle multiple kids learning online at the same time, according to industry guidelines.

The most comprehensive statewide effort to get clarity on student tech needs — voluntary state surveys of school districts in May and August — only requested estimates. Based on the answers it received, the state education department projects that between 81% to 89% of Washington state students had adequate technology and connectivity for remote learning.

“Some districts did a good job of collecting data and provided some reasonable

Seattle approves minimum pay rate for Uber and Lyft drivers

(Reuters) – The Seattle City Council passed a minimum pay standard for drivers for companies like Uber Technologies Inc UBER.N and Lyft Inc LYFT.O on Tuesday.

Under the ordinance, effective January, the drivers will now earn at least $16.39 per hour – the minimum wage in Seattle for companies with more than 500 employees.

Seattle’s law, modeled after a similar regulation in New York City, aims to reduce the amount of time drivers spend “cruising” without a passenger by paying drivers more during those times.

City officials argue this should prevent Uber and Lyft from oversaturating the market at drivers’ expense, but the companies say it would effectively force them to block some drivers access to the app. Both Uber and Lyft have locked out drivers in response to the NYC law.

“The City’s plan is deeply flawed and will actually destroy jobs for thousands of people — as many as 4,000 drivers on Lyft alone — and drive rideshare companies out of Seattle,” Lyft said in a statement.

Uber did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and New York’s New School, who analyzed the Seattle ride-hailing market using city data and a driver survey, found drivers net only about $9.70 an hour, with a third of all drivers working more than 32 hours per week.

But a study of data provided by Uber and Lyft showed most ride-hail workers in Seattle are part-time drivers whose earnings are roughly in line with the city’s median, defying some perceptions of drivers working full-time for little pay.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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Techstars Seattle grad and Vancouver-based Olive raises $1M for IT procurement software

Olive announced a $1 million seed round to fuel growth of its software that helps companies streamline IT procurement.



a group of people standing next to a body of water: The Olive team, pre-COVID. (Olive Photo)


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The Olive team, pre-COVID. (Olive Photo)

The Vancouver, B.C.-based startup aims to replace a traditionally manual evaluation process with spreadsheets, meetings, and word docs. Its platform lets vendors promote their products and helps buyers evaluate the options. The company says it can help trim the enterprise software buying process to less than eight weeks, versus several months or even years.

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“Put simply, buying without Olive is like selling without a CRM,” said CEO and co-founder Chris Heard.

Olive initially saw impact on its sales due to the pandemic as many of its customers are large restaurant chains. The company widened its reach and is now seeing business accelerate, Heard said.

“The fact that companies from across the globe are all trying to find innovative new solutions to existing and new challenges, coupled with tight budgets not allowing for traditional, expensive consulting engagements, is driving significant growth for Olive,” he said.



a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Olive co-founders Chris Heard (CEO) and Dan Harrison (CTO). (Olive Photos)


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Olive co-founders Chris Heard (CEO) and Dan Harrison (CTO). (Olive Photos)

Heard previously co-founded a Canadian leggings retailer and was a sales manager at Fuze. His co-founder Dan Harrison wa a technical solutions consultant at Hyperwallet Systems. They both previously worked together at Mobify.

Olive recently graduated from Techstars Seattle. The company has five employees. Active Capital led the seed round, with participation from Techstars and Novator.

“Today, buying enterprise software is full of bias & misaligned Incentives. Olive is unique in their approach & commitment to making the process more collaborative and free of bias,” Pat Matthews, founder Active Capital, said in a statement.

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