Why We Backed Marker Learning, Telehealth for the $80 Billion Learning Disability Services Market

We’ve been with the company since its seed round, and now welcome a16z and Sir Richard Branson with the Series A.

Why We Backed Marker Learning, Telehealth for the $80 Billion Learning Disability Services MarketWhy We Backed Marker Learning, Telehealth for the $80 Billion Learning Disability Services Market

As kids, Stefan Bauer and Emily Yudofsky were lucky enough to have parents that took on the expensive, challenging saga of evaluating and treating their dyslexia.

Today, as the Cofounders of Marker Learning, Stefan and Emily are announcing the company’s $15 million Series A round, led by a16z and joined by prolific entrepreneur and dyslexia advocate Sir Richard Branson. In addition to leading Marker’s seed in August of 2021 alongside our friends and fellow seed-round investors at Operator Partners, Difference Partners, and Night Ventures, we’re excited to follow on in a big way in the Series A as the Marker team continues to make care more accessible through tech-enabled learning evaluations and services from remote providers.

The Marker Learning team is shaking up the deeply inefficient special education system. While schools are legally required to administer learning evaluations, they are grappling with staffing shortages, particularly among specialized positions like school psychologists and special ed teachers. At the same time, staff yearns to spend their time on the highest-impact activities—like providing targeted support services to students with learning disabilities.

What really struck our team since writing the seed check and jumping into the trenches has been how much Stefan and Emily have gotten to know their core constituents, both within schools and families, on a deep level and learned from the ground up instead of forcing solutions top-down.

On the school side, Marker Learning has become one of the fastest adopted solutions by large districts nationwide in the history of EdTech, and is seeing a 100% renewal rate. They’ve been able to accomplish this with deep partnerships not only with school leaders, but also with the on the ground psychologists and teachers themselves who feel a deep sense of responsibility to the students and families they’re serving.

Marker has also thrived marketing directly to consumers who oftentimes are in need of a much more cost effective solution to the $5,000 - $10,000 private evaluations that exist today. By providing industry leading pricing in the market, Marker has seen a surge in demand from parents and students in need leading to one of the most capital efficient growth stories over the last couple of years. With Marker’s world-class NPS, parents have requested additional services such as tutoring. While early in the additional services journey, we see this team setting the stage for a potentially productive and exciting multi-year journey with the student.

At its core

Marker Learning is democratizing access to learning disability evaluations and services.

Its mission

It’s estimated that 20% of children have learning disabilities today, but only 4% are diagnosed and treated. Marker Learning is closing that gap.

How Marker Learning works

Marker Learning is offering learning disability evaluations and tutoring to parents and schools for a fraction of the cost. The service combines part-time psychologists with powerful software that streamlines the time-consuming intake, evaluation, and report writing process that leads to higher costs across the system

For schools with staffing shortages, Marker offers a reliable and affordable service to help students get diagnosed fast. For Parents they’re providing an accessible and holistic solution that will provide them with peace of mind at a price point they can afford.

The “it” factor: founder-market fit

CEO Stefan Bauer was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age thanks to the incredible support of his late mother Jayne Bauer. Inspired by her selfless approach, Stefan has attacked everything in his life with a level of intention that is rarely seen. His work ethic has led him to success in all aspects of life. Athletically Stefan was the all-time leading scorer at his high school for Lacrosse and Hockey before walking onto the Lafayette lacrosse team and  becoming one of the top players in NCAA Division I during his junior and senior years in college. Educationally Stefan not only succeeded at Lafayette, but received his MBA from Yale. Professionally, Stefan was a top ranked Engagement Manager at McKinsey after spending three years at Morgan Stanley in Sales and Trading…If it’s not clear, Stefan only has one speed.

Cofounder, Chief Product Officer, and Chief Marketing Officer Emily Yudkofsky is no different. Similarly diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age thanks to the support of her parents, Emily has worked tirelessly with incredible results. Marker Learning isn’t Emily’s first rodeo in the entrepreneurial world as she was the Founder and CEO of the personalized weight care company Found, which has raised more than $100 million. Her interest in the brain and neuroscience also dates back years to when she was also the Founder of fMRI company that was testing the efficacy of corporate marketing strategies. Throw in an undergraduate degree from Yale, a Stanford MBA, and a four-year stint at Google as a PMM and you have an incredibly complimentary Partner to Stefan.

Why now

The pandemic put schools, parents, and children in a challenging position from a learning development perspective. Schools have been crushed with a backlog of tests and a growing staffing shortage, while parents are in desperate need of getting their children back on track.

Recent federal and state legislation is requiring that schools test for dyslexia and other learning disabilities within set periods of time or for all students universally. Schools had difficulty meeting the new standards even before COVID made the backlogs for testing insurmountable, and last year alone districts paid over $1 billion in payments related to special education litigation. A technological partner offering remote care—also very normalized over the course of the pandemic—is becoming an extremely attractive option.

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