Edtech startup Citelighter raises $2 million, plans expansion - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Jan. 20, 2015 1:05 pm

Edtech startup Citelighter raises $2 million, plans expansion

The Betamore-based edtech startup is looking to hire 10-20 new employees.
Citelighter cofounders Lee Jokl, left, and Saad Alam.

Citelighter cofounders Lee Jokl, left, and Saad Alam.

(Photo courtesy of Amanda Nolan)

Citelighter, an edtech startup based at Betamore, closed a $2 million round of seed funding, the company announced Tuesday morning.

With the new money, the company plans to expand staff and add capabilities to its software products. Citelighter aims to help students, teachers and administrators navigate writing assignments efficiently and provide useful feedback.

"We're building a large sales office within Baltimore, and we're looking to probably double its size right now."
Citelighter CEO Saad Alam

CEO Saad Alam said the company seeks to make sure students are ready to be “knowledge workers” who can take on unstructured tasks, and communicate the results in a meaningful way. Citelighter relocated to Baltimore from Brooklyn in 2013, a harbinger of Charm City’s rising influence in the edtech world. The software is now being used in 3,800 schools, Alam said.

The company plans to add about 10-20 new employees to its current staff of 40. Many of the new hires will be in sales, Alam said.

“We’re building a large sales office within Baltimore, and we’re looking to probably double its size right now,” Alam said.

Other new hires will be in product development. The startup will also add new features to its teacher dashboard, which provides tools to streamline the way teachers assign work, and student data to better understand how students learn. The company’s tools also help students write bibliographies and research citations.

Citelighter is also looking to add mobile capabilities for students, Alam said, in response to more schools embracing a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach to tech-assisted instruction.

Along with sales and product improvement, Citelighter is also looking to add staff to help teachers face-to-face. This increased focus on professional development will involve staff who go into schools and help students and teachers re-learn the writing process.

“What we’ve really understood is that when you are selling a product that is fundamentally changing the culture around a new [instructional] approach, you need to go in an provide a lot of on-the-ground support,” Alam said.

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The company is planning to stay at Betamore for the time being.

“We’re definitely going to be staying in Betamore for the next year,” Alam said. He said new Betamore CEO Jen Meyer has been “extremely accommodating” in making arrangements for the company to stay in the Federal Hill space as it grows.

The funding round was led by Propel Baltimore, and included backing from Baltimore Angels, Blu Ventures, former T. Rowe Price CEO George Roche and Frank Bonsal, Jr., who is founder of National Enterprise Associates. Propel Baltimore Managing Partner Christopher College will join Citelighter as a board observer.

Companies: Citelighter, Betamore
People: Saad Alam
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