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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Hi sharks, my name is Dave Mason, and I’m the founder and CEO of Brightwheel. I’m here seeking a $400,000 investment for a 4% equity stake in my company. Brightwheel is the mobile app for preschools, daycares, and families, completely revolutionizing early education. Now, I believe all of you are parents here, and I want to ask when you come home after a long day and you ask your kids, “What did you learn in school today?” Does this sound familiar? “I did everything. I don’t want to tell you.” You don’t want to tell me. “I don’t know,” right? This is the experience for millions of parents across America every single day, especially for younger kids who’ve been apart from your little human being for 6, 8, 10 hours a day. That is all you get. You want to be a part of their day, add to their learning once you come home, and you can’t. It’s gut-wrenching. On the other side, on the school side, it’s no better. In addition to educating our kids, teachers are managing a ton of paperwork. They’re managing parents, and on top of that, they’re running a business. The system is broken, and brightwheel is the solution.

So let’s jump in and take a look at how Brightwheel works. With Brightwheel, teachers can easily check kids in from the mobile app, log activities and assessments during the day, send quick updates, and even manage their business all in one place. We’re just seeing an amazing amount of photos every single day on brightwheel, and this is the reason: you take it, tag it, and you are absolutely done.

Now, we’re going to look at the teacher app. This is the teacher’s room, and we’re going to click on activities at the bottom here. This is all being done on paper today, so we’ve taken it and made it super fast and super easy. We’re going to click on nap here and then tag three kids that just went down for a nap. The key about brightwheel is that we’re saving teachers time; you actually have measurably more time with kids every single day.

Now, we’re going to flip over real quick to the parent experience. Let’s jump to the mobile app. This is actually my little girl Serena, and this is her day. As you can see, I get a sense of not only what she’s doing but what she’s learning. So when I come home, I can actually have a conversation with her about it. My connection with my little girl is so much deeper because of brightwheel. And by the way, in the middle of a pretty tough day, it doesn’t hurt to get a photo like this.

Sharks, this is a unique opportunity to build a massive business that has a massive impact on people’s everyday lives. That’s something that we hear every day. So, I hope you’re joining Serena and our team in bringing brightwheel to every preschool, every daycare, and every family across the globe.

Are you selling me this platform, this dashboard? Is that what’s happening?

Yes, how much am I paying for it right now?

You’re paying nothing. Brightwheel is free today. When we have our premium product, you will be paying a monthly fee for that.

Will the parent ever pay anything?

Not today. We’re building a platform. We see a lot of opportunity to add value to parents down the road, except you can’t advertise on that platform, correct?

We have no intention to advertise. Wait, you can advertise to the parents all you want.

We don’t want to. We think there’s a ton of ways you can have a very hard time with that model. No way, and we have no intention to.

Let me walk you through what brightwheel looks like. We started with a pilot in Fall 2014. How many schools did you get started?

We got 10 schools in the pilot, literally no product. So we worked with them, listened to them, understood their needs. In June of this year, we launched publicly as brightwheel. We went from 10, and then now we have 25,200 schools in every state across the country.

Wow. So how are you going to monetize it?

First, I just want to say that when you look at other industries, all of these industries have really great dedicated software provided by very large companies. This is a massive market that doesn’t have that.

Alright, cool. So, that was seven years ago, that pitch. Looking at this, just a quick update here. It’s big business, it’s a great business, still in business, they’re doing well. They got two investors back in 2016, Chris and Mark, did a deal for 600k for 6%. In 2021, they raised 55 million more, and they’ve got a $600 million valuation. So they’re just doing quite well right now. But of course, this is really early, and this is in terms of the education level, preschool, daycare type stuff. It seems like that’s still where they’re at, number one childcare management software. But I couldn’t find any patents on the darn thing. I would love to feature something when it comes to software and graphical user interfaces. You’re kind of limited with respect to what you can protect, but you can protect the way that something looks. If you’ve got something unique with the way that it’s laid out, they’ve elected not to proceed with any patents that I could find that are publicly available.

Matt, can you speak on the trademark side?

I just looked up their trademark, and let me see if they have a portfolio here. But the main trademark is for brightwheel, obviously, it’s a word mark. Okay, they just have the one trademark registration, so it’s brightwheel, it’s a word mark, no logo design elements or anything like that. They’re in two different classes, which makes a lot of sense. So they are on the downloadable mobile app technology side, so physical digital good, and then they’re on the SaaS side. So they’re a SaaS, PaaS platform as a service kind of technology. It makes a ton of sense. They’re a mobile app company, and they do technology, software technology, right?

Chris, do you have any thoughts on that pitch?

Yeah, no, I was going to ask, so how have they monetized it? Like, are they selling advertising? Are the schools?

I’m on their site here, and if I look at it, if I’m a parent, basically, you’re going to pay now. I believe so.

Oh, you’re going to pay as a parent now?

Okay, let me see if I, oh no, I take it back. I’m sorry. So if you’re offering childcare, that’s who’s going to pay now. Unlimited room, staff, and support for one low monthly price. So the childcare facility would pay, not the parents, and they still don’t sell advertising, not from what I can tell. It doesn’t look like it. They’ve stayed away from that.

That was interesting from our perspective because, you know, again, our goal was we wanted to provide parents with easy access to all these different vendors. But one of the things that was missing for these vendors was to provide access as they wanted it to this group of parents, and we just felt like the profile should be pretty good, the website should be pretty good, you know, the blogs, community forums, and then being able to post news and events. But we also still wanted them, if they wanted to advertise and advertise with a link back to a registration document or something else. We felt like they should be able to do that, and we didn’t want to do popups that are so annoying, slow everything down. So we just kind of figured we’re going to try that. Again, we always felt like it needed to be free for parents, but we also felt like not only would it help us be able to keep our subscription costs down, but there are people that just want more, and we wanted to be able to offer that in a tasteful way. I get why they didn’t want to do it, and we had a discussion about it. She was like, well, you’re going to charge subscriptions, why do you have advertising? That’s just wrong. I’m like, well, because our subscriptions are so low that part of the reason why is because of the advertising. At the end of the day, you do have to pay the bills. Absolutely.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at