ClassDojo: An Educational App that Listens to Teachers

ClassDojo has become a major player in education, with more than 25 million users worldwide. The classroom management app was built by listening to teachers’ needs—and that strategy paid off. When ClassDojo co-founder Kunal Shah, a former product manager at Google, started working on the app in August 2011, he knew it had to be something that would really help teachers. His friend Todd Herman, a teacher in Los Angeles who had been using existing classroom technology for years, told Shah what was missing: an easy way to kick students out of class if they misbehaved.

“Todd said, ‘Hey I can put you in touch with a lot of teachers who need this problem solved,’ so that was the first group we talked to about ClassDojo and almost every school signed up for it right away,” Shah says. “But one school where Todd was teaching wasn’t so thrilled. They thought it would make students too competitive, and they weren’t sure whether kids would actually behave better when we took away points. So that gave us a lot of motivation to show them how much more effective the app could be. They signed up for it, too.”

It now has more than 25 million users, including teachers in the United States and Canada and students from more than 180 countries. The app allows teachers to build a classroom profile to post assignments or comments for their students. It also lets them take attendance, send messages, control what apps kids can access, and post videos.

ClassDojo sought to solve a problem that teachers had because Shah knew they wanted it—but he also needed something that would create excitement among the startup community, which could provide funding for an ambitious project. After talking to teachers about their needs, he decided to incorporate ClassDojo into an app that parents could connect with their children’s teachers. That way, the startup would get funding from parents and support from schools.

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