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McLean-based Kajeet finds growth bridging the homework gap with cloud software

The mobile connectivity and software provider works with schools, nonprofits and public libraries. CEO Daniel Neal talks about the human side of digital tools, and the company's growth into the UK.

Daniel Neal is the CEO of Kajeet. (Courtesy photo)
Updated at 2:10 p.m., 4/27/21.

While there are a whole host of companies specializing in the quickly-growing digitalization space, Kajeet CEO Daniel Neal thinks that many tend to miss the human, behavioral element of how people connect to tasks at school and at work.

“A common mistake is to not go all the way through to the very end user and the actual things that are happening in the life of the human who is involved in the stuff that’s made digital, rendered digital and delivered digitally. It’s really the human element,” Neal told Technical.ly.

Neal founded McLean, Virginia-based Kajeet in 2003, but what started out as a company developing cell phones with parental controls turned into a larger effort to close the overall digital divide. Now a 250-person growth company with about 3,100 customers across the U.S., Kajeet covers a lot under the umbrella of digitalization efforts. It works with K-12 schools, colleges and universities, nonprofits, public libraries and companies in anything from creating cloud software for management and analytics to overall digital integration efforts and infrastructure. It works with providers of broadband access on school buses (and even an airport jitney!), but also offers options to control what times and sites students can be on when using school laptops, and protects districts from ransomware attacks.

We take the power and the control of managing that and understanding how it’s being done, and where, when and by whom…[and then put that] power into the hands of the company, or the library system or the school,” Neal said. 

After Kajeet pivoted the business model into the education space a decade ago, it embraced a focus on using software and digital resources to bridge learning gaps. That includes broadband access and the homework gap, which describes how students have difficulties completing homework at home due to a lack of internet access. Although it’s a conversation that has gained urgency over the past year as virtual learning grew in the pandemic, Neal thinks it’s an ongoing issue with solutions that still need to be developed.

“There’s a lot of digital divide to bridge and I’d like to say we’ll have that all licked in a year or two, but I don’t believe that,” Neal said. “I think it will take a long and persistent mission-driven run to do more of that.”

The company announced this week that it would be expanding into the United Kingdom, after roughly doubling its customer base in the virtual Covid world. Going forward, Neal said the company is hoping to grow in the telehealth space, as well as gain a presence in transportation, public safety and agriculture. Geographically, it is looking to expand into the European Union, following its plans in the UK.

“Everyone talks about how there’s still three and a half billion people without internet [on] the planet…and I think that there’s a lot more work to do,” Neal said. “So we do want to grow there, but we’ll do it at a pace that makes sense.”

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