283e7f7The 21st Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference, Washington Technology Showcase and DealSource is officially underway, and tomorrow will feature the first ever Washington Technology Showcase.

The CGCS editorial team recently spoke with Resonate CEO Bryan Gernert, who discussed the importance of data and analytics in today’s marketplace. Today, we’re featuring our conversation with Fred Singer, CEO of Echo360, a leading higher-education software company.

The showcase will also feature presentations from a number of other innovative companies, such as All Trust Networks, APX Labs, Diamond Mind, DrFirst, Resonate, Fast Orientation, Haystax Technology, Higher Logic, Liquidity Services, Luminal, LemonFish, Tenable, VideoBlocks, and Zoomdata.

Here is what Mr. Singer had to say:

CGCS: Can you provide our readers some background on your company and its solutions? What products/services does the company sell? Who is your target customer?

Fred Signer: Echo360 is a SaaS software company that helps higher-ed faculty digitize content to track and improve student engagement before during and after class. Our principal market are colleges and universities, which represent 150 million students globally and 1.5 Trillion dollars of tuition.

There is a massive transition toward digital content in higher education, and significantly increased accountability based on federal and state policy shifts.   As a result, colleges and universities at all levels are focused on better using data and developing predictive analytics. Higher-ed’s focus on big data to drive outcomes mirrors shifts we’ve seen in consumer tech, financial services and healthcare in recent years. By digitizing the largest segment of content in higher-ed, we’re positioned to support that transition and are already working with institutions to incorporate the sort of behavioral data we capture into their platform.

We currently serve over 650 schools in 30 countries and reach nearly 2.5 million students in a given month.   We also are used effectively for both government and corporate training, as well as some K-12 schools.

CGCS: What challenges do your customers face that your products and solutions help overcome? What pain points do your offerings help alleviate?

Fred Signer: Higher education is going through a massive digital transformation, globally.  In the US, we are seeing massive investments in technology and data analytics, fueled in part by increased accountability and unsustainable tuition growth.  Research shows that improving student engagement is one of the most powerful levers for improving outcomes at an institutional level.

Remarkably, most of the higher-ed tech investments, to date, focus on back-office (financial aid, enrollment management) functions, rather than the classroom itself.  That said, the ubiquity of broadband and mobile computing in higher-ed now enable capture of student-teacher interaction in unprecedented ways — making the largest segment of content (the lecture) available, on demand, to students in a digital format. Our positioning is focused squarely on supporting faculty, and bringing that digital transition into the classroom.

Because our solution enables faculty to interact with and give students access to “learning moments” 24/7, we can dramatically extend the learning process beyond the classroom to improve engagement and, in turn, educational outcomes.

CGCS: What market trends are impacting the demand for your product/service?

Fred Signer: Education is the second largest sector of the economy and of one the last to be impacted by the Internet. The use of mobile devices in the classroom, the use of social media as a tool for learning, the expectation that there should be “Tivo” for the lecture are all spillovers from the most popular day to day activities people engage in on the web. They are now being directly integrated into the learning process.   In addition, the role of big data is now a critical part of education technology. Echo360 is able to measure student engagement in real time, to fuel predictive analytics, help faculty and institutions spot problem areas earlier and improve student retention.   We expect the role of big data to be crucial in the future of Echo360.

CGCS: What do you view as your largest business challenge of 2015 and beyond? How is the company positioning itself to overcome them?

Fred Signer: After acquiring several companies and rebuilding out Echo360 SaaS platform, we are focused 100 percent on going to market. We have taken the features of dozens of companies and rolled them into a simple and scalable platform.  We believe that every day our platform is not used in schools, students who need help miss out on a better education.  We are entering a greenfield market with less than 5 percent penetration so our goal is introduce our solution  to as many institutions and policy makers as possible.

CGCS: What drew you to participate in the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference? What do you think the company can get out of its participation? What can attendees gain from your participation?

Fred Signer: In the past decade, the Mid-Atlantic region continues to grow both as a great source of companies, entrepreneurs and capital.   Building a strong tech community in this region is critical for economic growth. In addition, Washington is a major policy and technology hub for education. We want to support this leadership.

To learn more about the 21st Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference, Technology Showcase and DealSource, click HERE. Event registration available at the door.