Loving parents always want to know how their children are doing at school. Brightwheel’s daycare management app can help with this as it allows parents and teachers to easily interact with each other. Founder Dave Vasen got an investment deal with Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca on Shark Tank. As of 2023, Brightwheel is worth over $600 million.
About the Founder
Hailing from San Francisco, California, Dave Vasen is a graduate of Stanford University. He has an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he gained experience working at a wide range of companies.
In 1999, he landed his first job at the Quality Assurance department of Electronic Arts. Then, he had short stints at companies like OneCast Media Inc., Morgan Stanley, Cisco Systems, SeasonTicket.com, and Teach for America.
In 2004, Dave became a senior associate consultant at Bain & Company. Three years later, he was hired as an advisor at LookFlow and Tempo AI. He was also chosen to be VP of Product at AltSchool.
Establishing the Company
For his day job, Vasen created software applications for Fortune 500 type companies. However, his career goals changed when his daughter, Serena, was born. He wanted to see his daughter grow up instead of focusing on work.
This inspired him to build a program for her schooling. In 2014, he launched a prototype for Brightwheel called KidCasa. Using this management software, teachers can inform parents of everything happening in the classroom.
The app was specifically targeted at daycares and preschools. When the final version of the app was ready, the startup was rebranded to a more professional name. Dave did an amazing growing the startup and focused on partnering with schools over revenue. Before entering the tank he had already signed up 2,500 schools and raised $2.2 million from angel investors.
Shark Tank Appearance
Dave Vasen almost unintentionally took his business to Shark Tank. He went to auditions for season seven because the filming location was near his workplace. In 2016, he entered the show, asking for $400,000 in return for 4% equity.
The valuation was a bit too high for some of the Sharks, but the entrepreneur wasn’t afraid to explain why it was a fair valuation. He declared that he was reforming early childhood education with Brightwheel.
Kevin O’Leary and guest investor Chris Sacca both offered $400,000 for 4.85% equity. After having a little argument with Sacca, Cuban decided to team up with the tech entrepreneur to split $600,000 for 6.67%. Poor Kevin O’Leary was cut out of the deal at the last minute!
After Shark Tank
Brightwheel uses a freemium business model which has attracted more schools. This has helped the company raise more funding after the show to fuel its growth.
Through the Series A funding round headed by Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca, the app raised an additional $10 million in 2017. The following year, it raised a further $21 million from Series B funding led by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a company run by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.
Shark Tank followed up with Dave Vasen in 2018 and he revealed the app was now being used in 25,000 schools. In February 2021, Brightwheel raised another investment round of $55 million. The company is only getting started, with its revenue recently hitting $13.8 million and is currently worth over $600 million!
Given that the company was valued at $9 million on Shark Tank, Sacca and Cuban have made a 60x return on their original investment. No doubt, Chris is annoyed that he has to share the upside with Mark!
Despite the recent slowdown in the economy, Brightwell is still hiring and looking to recruit more people in marketing, engineering, and product.