Raises $500K First Round –

RICHMOND, Va. –, a company that writes tests for grade school and junior high-school students and tracks their progress online, in January raised $500,000 in a first round of institutional venture backing.

Next Generation Fund, a vehicle raised by Fairfax, Va.-based NextGen Management, provided the capital.

The fund, raised from technology executives in the Mid-Atlantic region, stood at about $8.5 million at press time but could reach $9 million or $10 million, said Managing Director Zimri Putney. creates educational assessment exams for students based on state education standards. The company analyzes test results of individual students as well as entire classes, allowing teachers to adjust their curricula to address any shortcomings before official state-wide tests are administered, explained Chief Executive Susan Hardwicke.

Founded in November 1995 and incorporated in May 1996, has developed exams in math and English for grades two through eight and in science for grades two through five. The company plans to add history questions in some grades and will include algebra tests this spring. will use its new capital to continue developing test questions and to expand marketing.

The company already has customers in Virginia, Oregon and California, a client base that had attracted Next Generation Fund’s attention, Mr. Putney said.

Dr. Hardwicke said also works with schools in Washington, D.C., and Victoria, Australia. About 90% of’s revenue, however, comes from Virginia.

The company might seek additional venture financing in six to nine months.

Although is a relatively young company, Mr. Pitney views it as a prime acquisition candidate for an educational publishing house in three to five years. Nevertheless, a public offering could be another exit strategy, he said.