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Tulsa-Based Edtech Startup Raises $1.35M, Reaches Over 450,000 Students

By

Atento Capital

on

October 5, 2021

Latest round funded by Lightship Capital, Atento Capital, Cortado Ventures, Pharrell’s Black Ambition, and Google’s Black Founders Fund, among others

Tulsa, OK -- October 5, 2021 -- As schools across the country navigate in-person and remote learning models, a Tulsa-based math gaming platform continues to grow, raising another round of more than $1M and delivering its edtech solution to more than 450,000 students. 

Boddle Learning’s married co-founders, Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan, immigrated from Ghana and Singapore respectively and relocated their business from Kansas City to Tulsa while participating in the Tulsa Remote program. Their gaming platform has landed in 27,000 classrooms across all 50 states and raised more than $2M since its inception in 2018.

The startup’s pre-seed raise of $1.35M was fueled by heartland-based VCs and initiatives aimed at catalyzing investment in minority-owned businesses. The round was led by Tulsa’s Atento Capital and included Lightship Capital, Cortado Ventures, ScoutFund, KC Rise Fund, Next Wave Impact, Pharrell’s Black Ambition, and Google’s Black Founders Fund.

“It’s never been more important to help students learn, both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Edna Martinson, co-founder of Boddle Learning. “This latest round of support will help Boddle connect with more teachers and students, accelerate the development of both gameplay and classroom features, and expand access— especially in under-served communities.” 

Boddle’s gamified education platform uses 3D games and adaptive learning technology to offer personalized math experiences for K-6 students. The games are designed similar to games kids play outside the classroom and allows students to customize their own characters, play bonus games, and earn rewards while going through learning content. In addition, the platform uses AI to evaluate students’ comprehension, adapting content to make it  appropriate for each student’s skill level.

“Covid-19 has turned the world of education upside down, rapidly accelerating digital tools as teachers and students straddle in-person and remote learning models,” said Michael Basch, managing partner at Atento Capital. “Boddle’s husband-and-wife team brings an unstoppable equation to this landscape. With a video game background and creative marketing prowess, they have developed a unique gamified learning tool that’s already helping students, and one that Atento is thrilled to back.”

Boddle integrates with popular classroom tools like Google Classroom and Clever to make onboarding and rostering easier, and includes a portal that provides valuable feedback to teachers— such as a Learning Gaps Report that identifies skills that need extra instruction. The support from Google comes at a critical time as Boddle looks to integrate more with Google tools that help facilitate learning.

“Edna is a passionate founder working on the important issue of making education accessible and fun for kids. The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund is proud to support Boddle Learning’s mission, to help kids grow their love for learning by connecting teachers to engaging and transformative educational experiences,” added Jewel Burks Solomon, Head of Google for Startups U.S.

In an analysis by non-profit LEANLAB Education, 7 out of 9 teachers reported that Boddle was a helpful tool when students were at home because it made it  easy to assign tasks and gave students an easy way to practice. A recent McKinsey report looking at the effects of the pandemic on education cited Math as one of the subjects students struggled with the most due to interrupted learning.

“We are proud to support Boddle Learning in delivering its technology solution to  classrooms around the country,” said Brian Brackeen, General Partner of Lightship Capital. “Lightship Capital is committed to supporting founders of color, women and others who have been underfunded by traditional venture capital. We were moved by Edna and Clarence’s mission and look forward to their continued success.”

Boddle Learning is based in Tulsa’s state-certified entrepreneurial incubator, 36 Degrees North. Among several awards and recognition over the last year, Martinson was recently named to Forbes’ The Next 1000 list. 

“Boddle Learning’s powerful technology is coming on the heels of two difficult years for educators and students,” said Nathaniel Harding, Managing Partner at Cortado Ventures. “Education technology solutions like Boddle Learning can make a significant positive impact on the growth and development of impressionable minds.”


About Boddle Learning

Boddle is an impact-focused gaming company on a mission to create interactive experiences that inspire learning both inside and outside the classroom. By integrating classroom technology and education into real 3D games, Boddle makes online learning fun and personalized for students while saving teachers a ton of time on homework, practice, and assessments.

Learn more about Boddle’s gamified education platform at BoddleLearning.com.


About Lightship Capital

Lightship Capital invests in the unexpected. By seeking dedicated entrepreneurs who innovate in US regions leveraging modest resources to produce outsized returns, Lightship finds and develops remarkable talent while catalyzing emerging ecosystems.


About Atento Capital

Atento Capital is an investment firm that’s driving opportunity in Tulsa through returns, quality job creation, and being helpful. By democratizing access to venture capital and creating pathways to upward mobility for traditionally underinvested groups of people, Atento has helped dozens of companies and entrepreneurs grow and thrive in the Tulsa tech ecosystem. 


About Cortado Ventures

Cortado Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm investing in ambitious, growth-driven companies to define a new generation of economic prosperity for Oklahoma and the immediate region.


Tulsa, OK -- August 24, 2021 -- Respond Flow, a software startup that helps steer organizations through the complexities of mass text message compliance, today announced a seed round raise of $2.5M led by Mercury, Atento Capital, and Cortado Ventures. The company will use the funds to expand its Tulsa-based operations, building out its development and sales teams. 

“We launched Respond Flow to help companies navigate the complexities of mass text messaging and confidently connect with their customers 1-on-1,” said Martin Lien, co-founder and CEO of Respond Flow. “We’re grateful to have Mercury, Atento, and Cortado in our corner as we grow our team in Tulsa and move to capture more of the market.” 

Respond Flow’s SMS platform allows users to schedule and send personal and trustworthy text messages to customers, prospects or employees using a local 10-digit number. Sending mass text messages can be a complicated process. Cell carriers continue to change regulations, and can fine companies up to $10,000, or even shut down service, for failure to comply with SMS rules. Respond Flow is one of the only platforms on the market that manages compliance from number registration to campaign with a simple experience that streamlines the process for small to medium-sized businesses.

"RespondFlow is seeing undeniable momentum in the SMS market," said Aziz Gilani, Managing Director at Mercury. "We're proud to support their growth as they continue to roll out new features and services that sharpen their competitive advantage."

Respond Flow’s emphasis on compliance has helped the company boast a 97% text message delivery rate, attracting big organizations such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, AR Workshop, and Sysco, among more than 150 customers since launching in 2019. 

“When you meet passionate founders who are fresh out of college, living together, and working on something 24/7, there's a certain energy that compels you to get behind it,” said Will Gray, head of investments at Atento Capital. “As texting regulations continue to evolve, Respond Flow’s platform is emerging as a resource that’s trustworthy, easy to use, and effective. The company’s momentum is felt across the Tulsa tech ecosystem and we’re excited to see what’s next.”

Respond Flow recently relocated from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, and is rapidly expanding its footprint in the 36 Degrees North co-working space at Tulsa City Hall. The company is in the process of doubling the square footage of its new headquarters and is hiring for several senior positions, including head of product, head of sales, and senior messaging engineer, among others. A full list of open positions can be viewed here

“Martin Lien and his team at Respond Flow have a knack for creating enthusiasm and motivation around their efforts,” Nathaniel Harding, managing partner of Cortado Ventures, said. “Their success as a practical technology solution and as innovators translate to success for Oklahomans who want to see our state grow. Whether folks directly benefit from Respond Flow’s growth by finding job opportunities or indirectly benefit by gaining access to flourishing economic development and budding regional tech industry, they’ll see the impact Respond Flow has for our community.”

About Respond Flow
Respond Flow steers users through the complexities of mass text message compliance to avoid fines and confidently connect with their customers. Using their platform they empower organizations to connect with their customers and build authentic relationships. 

About Mercury
Mercury is an early-stage venture capital firm headquartered in Houston, Texas. With over $500 million under management, Mercury invests in entrepreneurs and innovation across Middle America. Our investment themes focus on SaaS, Cloud, and Data Science/AI platforms enabling the digital transformation of markets and industries.

About Atento Capital
Atento Capital is an investment firm that’s driving opportunity in Tulsa through returns, quality job creation, and being helpful. By democratizing access to venture capital and creating pathways to upward mobility for traditionally underinvested groups of people, Atento has helped dozens of companies and entrepreneurs grow and thrive in the Tulsa tech ecosystem. 

About Cortado Ventures
Cortado Ventures is managed by partners Nathaniel Harding, David Woods, and Mike Moradi.  The fund invests in early-stage companies in a variety of Oklahoma regional sectors by aggregating and managing investor capital, and helps startups grow through seed funding, collaboration, and mentorship. The Cortado partners have launched the venture capital fund to build next generation companies which will bring future-ready technology jobs to the region.

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