Portfolio Spotlight: Gavin Cooney, CEO of Learnosity*
Each month, Battery highlights a different portfolio-company CEO with our “Five Questions in Five Minutes” feature, showcasing the diversity of the Battery portfolio across investment stages, sectors and geographies. The views expressed here are those of the CEO, not Battery.
What does your company do in 10 words or less?
We provide assessment infrastructure to help companies build better education products.
What is your favorite piece of management/leadership advice?
Do one thing, and do it well.
When we built v0.1 of Learnosity, it had really wide applicability. The ability to deliver a question and capture a response could have been used in a bunch of industries and applications. We narrowed our focus and did one thing, well. We picked the U.S. as our market—we also focused on formative (learning) and not summative assessments, middle and high school education first, and the top end of the market (larger number of users). We went a mile deep and an inch wide. I have the same advice for anyone in business—pick one thing. After that is nailed, you can lift your head up a little and think about widening your view.
What’s the most under-rated trend in technology, in your opinion?
With regards to technology, in 2019 we’re way up towards the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The infrastructure is there to carry our applications, internet connectivity is nearly ubiquitous, app stores are in place, etc. This gives entrepreneurs an incredible platform to launch a product in an extremely capital-efficient way.
WhatsApp was able to get to half a billion users with 32 engineers, and $60M. Pokemon Go** got to 45 million users in about 2 weeks. We’re going to see a lot more of this.
What Learnosity accomplishment in the last 12 months are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the consistent value we bring to our customers, day in and day out. We measure a bunch of things, and all the metrics have increased hugely over the past 12 months. Right now, every single day Monday to Friday, we have more than one million students take a test or do their homework using Learnosity. I’m really proud of our team that makes this happen without fail.
BONUS QUESTION: Who was your favorite teacher when you were young, and why?
In high school, a family friend, Luke McGuirk, was my math teacher. Sure, he taught me math, but he was also a huge cheerleader for me, and provided a lot of the support and encouragement I needed to make the most of the talents I had. Unfortunately, he died in May. The number of former pupils who showed up at his funeral was testament to the impact he made on so many lives over the years.
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