Ex-Facebook Software Engineer Josh Wiseman Surfaces At Education Startup Remind101


Remind101650Former Facebook Software Engineer Josh Wiseman, who left the company last May to accept an engineer-in-residence position with The Social + Capital Partnership, announced in a Facebook post that he has joined startup Remind101, a mobile messaging service for teachers.

Wiseman joined Facebook in 2007, and he led engineering for Timeline, and also worked on features including chat, photos, and videos.

He said in his Facebook post:

It has been an interesting and somewhat convoluted path since I left Facebook last year, but I’ve finally figured out my next big thing. This week I joined a startup called Remind101, and I’m super pumped.

Remind101 is a mobile messaging service that enables teachers to safely and efficiently update students and parents on important information relating to the classroom and school activities (homework, test reminders, words of encouragement). The product is extremely simple and elegant, and it’s growing like crazy. The company has about 20 people and is in Soma. Social+Capital and Kleiner Perkins are investors, and (The Social+Capital Partnership Founder and former Facebook Vice President Chamath Palihapitiya) and (venture capitalist) John Doerr are on the board and huge fans.

How did I end up here?

I left Facebook wanting to work on a more specific social problem in the world, and soon zeroed in on education. I found the space really interesting intellectually, extremely high-leverage in terms of long-term social good, and broken in ways that were approachable for someone with my background. In short — high impact. It then took me about nine months of surveying startups, visiting schools, reading books, and talking to education veterans before I figured out the principles I’d use to find the right project. (Probably not surprising that many of them also apply to Facebook.)

  • Build simple tools that solve clear problems.
  • Launch quickly and iterate based on user feedback and data.
  • Have a path to massive growth without a massive sales team. Specifically, I became weary of approaches that required buy-in from school administrators. (Enterprise software sales are hard; school sales are even harder.)
  • Leverage the amazing learning tools being created all over the world, like Khan Academy and Code Academy, rather than competing with them.
  • Focus on k-12 education. Highest leverage, most fun.
  • Work with a scrappy, talented, and humble team.
  • Work in San Francisco. I gave myself that one.

Remind101 hits all of these. We’re building out an education graph of teachers, students, and parents. They all rave about the product, and when this thing hits enough scale, I believe we’ll be able to make a real difference in opening up opportunities for kids around the country and the world.

So that’s the update.

For my tech friends, if education or any of these thoughts ring true to you, I’d love to chat. I can help shortcut some of the months it took me to research the space. In addition to Remind101, I know of a few other awesome edtech projects out there. In this vein I’m going to start blogging about the things I’ve learned in education. Putting this out now so people can call me out if I don’t do it. So stay tuned.

Thanks to all the wonderful friends and family who have given me advice over the past year. I hope to return the favor when needed.