John Danner
May 2, 2018 · 1 min read

What I Am Up To

After five years building Zeal, we had a profitable business serving about 50,000 students. The only problem was that beyond some very leading edge schools, no one saw the need for a tutoring system that could diagnose student misconceptions and give small tutoring doses to help them. Despite spending a lot of time trying to expand the market, we couldn’t, so we sold the company. Not a great financial outcome, but we are happy student will be able to keep using the system.

Tutoring just isn’t a thing that US schools do and US parents still like to haul their kids down to kumon rather than do something online which has a lot more tech behind it. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I finally started something that was too far ahead of the market, but it still stings. It especially stings when Chinese companies like Knowbox and 17zuoye implemented the same homework model we started at Zeal and have succeeded fabulously.

Since selling Zeal a few months ago, I’ve been angel investing in education. You can see what I’ve invested in on my AngelList page. The theme is to invest in areas which I think have the most need and potential for innovation. Not surprisingly, Asia is a significant area of focus. I haven’t really decided if investing is what I want to devote my next five year chapter to or not. Working with founders to help them avoid some of my worst mistakes is definitely fun for now!

The Future of Education

When schools feel like newspapers, the way we learn will…

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