Bellevue, WA-based Clipboard announced today that it has received strategic investment from Scientia, providers of timetable and scheduling solutions to more than 400 million educational institutions globally in an effort to better cater its services to the education vertical. BetaKit covered the bookmarking startup in May, 2012 when it came out of private beta and since then has amassed over 100,000 registered users who have saved more than 1.7 million clips combined.
“We thought long and hard around what we wanted to do in this next phase and some feedback that we heard was that as generic a tool as Clipboard is…we thought it would be good to focus on at least one vertical, however we felt that every other vertical we explored was too narrow,” said CEO and founder Gary Flake in an interview with BetaKit. “Education is a vertical that is in fact surprisingly horizontal because you have to cover all the topical themes…but also all the different points of view.”
The startup will explore how it can provide a value-added service to instructors, researchers, and students both an in an individual capacity to better allow them to carry out their tasks from an academic perspective, while also supporting their collaborative needs. Whether it’s group projects, multiple researchers co-authoring a paper, and other everyday scenarios in the space, Clipboard will look to leverage its relationship with Scientia and explore some of the possibilities around both monetizing its platform and changing the way information is collected and stored in academic settings. The company is open to approaching the issue by either providing more premium features that it offers for free and monetizes later or tapping into Scentia’s existing client base for a more subscription-based package it can roll out down the road.
One of the reasons Clipboard feels that it was built for research is that all of the content its users ‘clip’ are, by default, private with the option to share if the user chooses to do so. When asked about Clipboard’s place in an industry with more well-known brands like Evernote, Pinterest, and other newcomers like Springpad, Flake focused on key features and capabilities that he felt effectively set Clipboard apart from other popular bookmarking tools.
Some of those features he mentioned include the ability to not be restricted by any given category and being able to capture everything from a Google search result to a Facebook post by selecting the entire page or parts that interest them. The clips then are then arranged in a Pinterest-like manner in which they’re kept visually intact, keeping their hyperlinks and videos, allowing users to know the information they hold without having to click on them or probe further. Users of Clipboard can also explore ‘clips’ around a specific topic or interest from other users as well as their own, in addition to using the company’s iOS apps to quickly clip and import all or bits of content from other mobile apps and browsers.
With the new funding secured and a keen focus on breaking ground in the education space, Clipboard will also be opening up its API in the coming months to enable third-party developers to build apps for the platform. In doing so, the company believes it will be able to build an entire eco-system of products and services that will better engage its users. However, one of its biggest obstacles on route to catching up with some of the other well-known brands in the space may just be the switching costs users encounter going from one platform to another, something it might be able to overlook if it can get its foot in the doors with educational institutions and focus on serving the different tiers within the academic frontier.