“Supporting school communities around the country is our mission and it is even more exciting when we get to unite all families and communities in supporting teachers and transforming education together!!” says Vlada Lotkina, CEO and co-founder of ClassTag, Inc. The New York City-based startup was founded in 2015
Genesis of ClassTag
Originally from Ukraine, Vlada attended one of the top educational institutions in the world – Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and built a successful corporate career at the premier management consulting firm – Boston Consulting Group, and subsequently at EMC, and Dell.
Vlada had started working with her father, an entrepreneur, in her late teens. Thus, from early in her life, she was imbued with the love of business and entrepreneurship. Her family had also set a high bar for achievement. They would show up to her school to show they valued education and encouraged Vlada to challenge herself toward greater achievement. When her daughter started school, she realized that in her own case, access to great education and support from her family had enabled her to attend some of the most sought-after educational institutions and provided her with good workplace opportunities. She wanted her daughter to have similar opportunities.
“This led me to start ClassTag,” says Vlada; “I wanted to become that parent and help others support their children and their success.”
The Free Parent-teacher Communication App
Vlada says that ClassTag was born out of her dissatisfaction with the communication and involvement opportunities – as seen from a parent’s perspective. The platform integrates teachers’ feedback as an essential input for growth, which has enabled them to increase their offerings across the spectrum.
Class Tag has built close relationships with early adopters and thoroughly investigated what makes our most connected classrooms thrive. “There are plenty of well-meaning people that will give you a lot of advice, but most of it is irrelevant because it is only based on their specific experience and not your customer’s needs are wants. I strongly believe that the only people you need to listen to are your users and customers,” says Vlada.
ClassTag is on a mission to turn parents into partners and help schools leverage a precious and free resource they have, families’ love for their children. The cloud-based ClassTag platform connects teachers and families with one easy-to-use app for all their communication needs. And, best of all – it’s free! It offers teachers and school administrators a comprehensive and delightful platform to communicate with families and unite communities in every student’s success.
Today, there are over 25,000 schools connecting with over 5 million families nationwide on ClassTag. “The old way is one-way communications that are spreading the information in mass blasts, the new way is empowering educators to engage families in their school and student success. That’s what makes ClassTag’s growth at the school level so rapid – you can’t build relationships if you talk at people, but rather you need to engage them in a dialogue which is what ClassTag provides to its users, with all the needed controls to make it sustainable and safe to monitor”, says Vlada. The platform has accelerated transformations and has provided schools with the ability to reach and engage every family overcoming language barriers with automated translation into 100+ languages and the technology divide delivering information in a modality that suits the parent. The tool also unites various key interactions into one place from parent-teacher conferences to supply lists and everyday messages and newsletters.
Unlike other options, ClassTag unifies all family engagement into one solution that has equity and access at its core.
When using ClassTag, a teacher can use one easy-to-use platform to reach families regardless of their language needs and build valuable relationships with them in a private social platform for their classroom. Teachers save over 6 hours a week while improving families’ engagement in their kids’ education. They can also get education-related supplies with contributions from families and engaged communities built on ClassTag, thus limiting the out-of-pocket expenses (to the tune of $700+ a year) that many of them incur.
ClassTag has enabled teachers to organize events, request volunteers, schedule parent-teacher conferences, send beautiful, automated newsletters, and share important announcements and pictures. Having access to different ways of communicating with parents, all in one tool has been a huge time saver for teachers.
An administrator can replace 5+ methods most schools currently use for communications, newsletters, parent-teacher conferences, events, supply lists, etc. This provides invaluable visibility into family engagement with actionable analytics and reports, streamlines communication, and mitigates safety and compliance risks.
With ClassTag, teachers can reach and engage parents in scores of languages through their preferred channels including online, via email or text message, and even paper printouts, and not miss important reminders stuck at the bottom of their child’s backpack or in countless tools and emails. “I am excited about the impact we are having on thousands of schools and millions of people,” says Vlada.
"Be bold and believe in your own potential because if you don’t, nobody else will."
Evolving EdTech Scenario
“EdTech, especially in K12, has a reputation for being slow-moving due to the bureaucracy, and lack of funding in public education. Despite that many companies including ClassTag have demonstrated the ability to rapidly scale thinking creatively about business models, market segments to go after, and go-to-market strategies,” states Vlada.
Vlada feels that in 2023, with normalcy returning post-COVID, schools, and districts will return to their strategic programs and planning processes. They will also have to factor in the new normal when there is more school choice and over 1 million students have left the public school system since 2019 for charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling alternatives.
“The rate of development and improvement will need to pick up the pace. Families want what’s best for their children so building strong relationships with parents and showcasing the great work schools are doing to gain broader community support is going to be critical.” Along with improvements to the core education, there will be the need for more personalization and focus on the child’s social-emotional development.
Exciting Initiatives and Growth Engines
ClassTag is focused on providing an equitable, accessible, easy-to-use, and robust method of communication via its Connect platform for schools and districts. As many users switch to ClassTag from using flyers, email, and phone calls, simplifying, and streamlining communication is at the core of the platform’s system.
In the changing EdTech scenario, ClassTag has evolved to better serve teachers, parents, and schools. For example, during the pandemic, elementary classrooms started to rapidly adopt learning management systems to support virtual learning. ClassTag built a whole suite of integrations with Google Suite, and Google classroom to support LMS. ClassTag utilizes tools and automation to scale ClassTag and maintain a small team size. They have also caught up with the latest trend of Chat GPT specifically for their marketing programs.
A Proactive Leader
Vlada believes in collaborative work and empowering her team to come up with the best ideas and their execution even when they work as a fully remote team. “The team members are the heroes, and my job is to set overall direction and goals and remove the barriers to their success,” says she.
About women’s leadership in EdTech, Vlada shares “I think it is important to see female leaders as prevalent as males so that we call them ‘leaders’ and not ‘female leaders.’ The best solutions come from diverse teams with diverse perspectives and EdTech is not an exception.”
Words of Advice
Vlada’s words of advice to women in EdTech leadership are “Don’t let any limiting beliefs about women in technology or women in leadership positions stop you from pursuing what you set out to do. Be bold and believe in your own potential because if you don’t, nobody else will.”
To children, she says: “Try many different projects and explore different areas of passion as early as you can so that you can both find and afford to do something you truly love.”