A Better, Online Option for Learning Assessments: Why We Funded Thrive Education

Dorm Room Fund is excited to announce our investment in Thrive Education, a company facilitating more accessible, online assessments for learning differences, conducted by psychologists and enabled by machine learning. While one in five children in the U.S. has a learning difference (including ADHD, autism, and dyslexia), many go undiagnosed due to long waitlists and high costs. Thrive Education is helping the 69 million people in the U.S. with a learning difference to better understand and manage their learning so that they can harness their strengths. 

Diagnosing learning differences is important but difficult 

Undiagnosed learning differences matter because students with learning differences drop out of school at nearly three times the rate of their peers and commonly struggle with anxiety, depression, and underachievement. The team at Thrive believes that learning differences can be used to one’s advantage, provided they are properly diagnosed and managed. In fact, 40% of self-made millionaires have a learning difference; the key is early diagnosis and ongoing support. 

However, the process of properly diagnosing a learning difference is painful. Parents seeking a learning difference assessment currently face two sub-optimal choices. The first is to go through the child’s school, which generally entails long wait times and limited control. The second is to set an appointment with an independent psychologist, which can cost up to $10,000 and have a waitlist of up to eight months.   

Thrive’s solution: a better, online option

For a fraction of the cost of alternatives, Thrive provides online assessments conducted by licensed, Ph.D. psychologists, using gold-standard assessments. These psychologists then provide a formal diagnosis, tailored intervention recommendations, and a personalized written report within one week. Recent developments regarding COVID-19 uniquely position Thrive to enable the continuation of learning difference assessments while social distancing persists.

Why Dorm Room Fund invested

Thrive Education is offering a newly possible, 10x better experience for learning difference assessments. The mission-driven team has worked for over a year to establish sustainable competitive advantages, which sets them up to be a strong beneficiary of an accelerated adoption curve driven by COVID-19.  In short, Thrive is positioned to be a leader in transitioning the $14B market for learning difference assessments in the U.S. online.    

1. Now is the time: The confluence of new regulation allowing for cross-state telepsychology combined with advancements in technology mean Thrive’s solution is newly possible.

The Thrive team quickly identified the opportunity created by recent telepsychology legislation, which is now approved or pending approval in cross-state applications in 27 states, combined with advances in video recognition, auditory analysis, and natural language processing that enable video-behavioral insights. The team has not only moved quickly to capture this opportunity but has made consistent progress over the year they’ve been on our radar. COVID-related changes further amplify and accelerate tailwinds for Thrive.   

2. A 10x better experience: This is a rare opportunity to back a product that is multiple times better than the existing alternatives on several dimensions.

Thrive’s solution delivers results up to 30x faster and 10x cheaper than alternatives. The team’s machine learning overlay could also result in higher diagnostic accuracy, although the assessment can be made even without utilizing Thrive’s machine learning functionality. 

3. Steady progress towards establishing a moat: Thrive’s ability to offer the gold-standard learning difference assessment online is a unique and hard to replicate advantage. In addition to creating barriers to entry, it also gave us confidence that this team can not only effectively establish the necessary partnerships but also has the tenacity required to tackle tough challenges.

Written by Justine Humenansky, DRF Partner (Bay Area). Follow her on Medium and Twitter. Photo by Santi Vedrí on Unsplash

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