Vermont Virtual Educational Platform InSpace Receives $6M in Seed Funding
InSpace, a collaborative video conferencing platform that replicates personal interaction between students and teachers in virtual classrooms, tannounced that the company has closed on $6 million in two rounds of seed funding.
The funding is led by a $2.6 million investment from venture capital firm Boston Seed Capital and $1.5 million each from Gutbrain Ventures and PBJ Capital, in addition to other investors. The seed funding will expand educator support to keep pace with rapid growth and establish a resource network for users to share ideas and successes. Other improvements include streamlined registration and payment.
Dr. Narine Hall, data science assistant professor and academic program director at Champlain College, and leading software and video engineer Haykanush Lputyan, launched InSpace in 2020, sparked by frustrations with how existing virtual meeting platforms limited student-teacher interactions. Created by educators for educators, InSpace is used by thousands of professors in over 100 universities and K-12 schools worldwide. With a proudly bottom-up approach, InSpace crowdsources and implements features based on educator suggestions, tools, and solutions.
“This is the most exciting time to be in higher education, so much is changing,” said Hall, founder and chief executive officer. “Sometimes it takes a challenge to innovate. Our goal is to provide a uniquely collaborative online environment that complements, rather than disrupts, educators’ exceptional work.”
InSpace mirrors the fluid, personal, interactive nature of a real classroom. It allows participants to break free of static squares to create a fun, engaging environment that fosters collaboration. Each person is represented in a video circle that can freely move around the space. When people are next to each other, they can hear and engage in conversation, and as they move away, the audio fades, allowing for one-on-one and group conversations all in one space. As participants zoom out, they can see the entire space, which provides visual social cues. Participants can use Google docs, Miro board and other tools to collaborate without leaving InSpace.
Additional strategic technology investors include John Abele (co-founder, Boston Scientific); Jeff Seibert and Wayne Chang (co-founders, Crashlytics and Digits); Rick Gibbs (co-founder, Dealer.com); Hovhannes Avoyan and Mikayel Vardanyan (founder and chief product officer, PicsArt); Andrew Artz (partner at Social Capital); and Sona Antonyan (angel).
“We utilized the InSpace platform for our very first video conference and we were just blown away,” said Nicole Stata, general partner, Boston Seed Capital. “It was immediately evident that Dr. Hall and her co-founder were passionate about revolutionizing the remote education experience and creating a solution to meet the needs of educators without forcing educators to adapt to tech.” In less than a year, the company has doubled to 20 professionals with both coding and classroom experience who are committed to creating a people-centered product.
InSpace allows instructors to maintain the natural flow of a face-to-face class in a virtual space and empowers students to control how they engage. Users seamlessly switch from communal class discussions to private conversations or group work, similar to a lab or classroom. Teachers can speak to everyone when needed, move between individual students and groups for smaller discussions, and place groups of students in audio-isolated rooms for collaboration. Accessibility for all learners is built in to the core platform, which also features multiple levels of security — including end-to-end encryption, daily Secureframe scanning, and 24/7 alerts — to safeguard users against unwanted participants.
Feedback from educators has been enthusiastic: “InSpace’s innovative format provides a rich and vibrant experience for users,” said Joe Omega of the College Access Program at the University of San Francisco, an early adopter who recommended InSpace to colleagues. “We’ve noticed increased excitement and involvement from participants.”