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Always Prepped Founder Fahad Hassan Sets Sights on Changing the Edtech Landscape

According to a study by Knewton, the average American teacher only spends 40 percent of his or her time teaching. The other 60 percent is dedicated to administrative tasks.

Fahad Hassan, founder of Always Prepped, believes his product can dramatically reduce that number.

“We want teachers to spend more time teaching—not filling out grades, meeting with parents, running reports and getting ready for tests,” Hassan said. “A system like ours can really automate that.”

Always Prepped, which is being used in over 3,000 schools, integrates attendance, behavior, grades and state assessments, creating an easy-to-use dashboard that tells educators what is going on in their schools and districts.

Now, Always Prepped, a 1776 portfolio company, has the chance to expand its influence. Last week, Portland-based Alma, a holistic student engagement platform, announced that it had acquired Always Prepped and would bring on Hassan as its chief business development officer in its D.C. office. Always Prepped is Alma’s first acquisition.

“I’m incredibly excited for the acquisition of Always Prepped and to get to work with Fahad,” said Andrew Herman, Alma cofounder and CEO. “I know we’re going to do great things together.”

Hassan is no stranger to the education industry—or to getting acquired. As soon as he graduated college in 2006, Hassan founded his first company, a mobile calendaring system for college students. After that company was acquired in 2008, Hassan had the urge to solve another problem—this time, though, he refocused on the K-12 market, and Always Prepped was born.

As a startup, Hassan and his team were constantly reaching out to potential partners, and Hassan and Herman met about six months ago. The two had complementary products and a shared vision about the education marketplace. They saw an opportunity to work together, and the acquisition deal came together in January.

Hassan already is working as the chief business development officer in Alma’s D.C. office. His primary function in the 30-person company is to establish partnerships that will enhance the company’s presence in the marketplace, looking for other companies to buy and products to integrate into Alma.

As for Always Prepped, the platform will now redirect users to Alma. Over the next year, Alma will fully integrate Always Prepped’s products and services.

Hassan said he is excited about the opportunity to grow the platform and transform the education technology landscape—not only in this country, but globally as well. He wants to see people build products that administrators, teachers and students can use to improve education.

Districts, too, are figuring out how to incorporate technology into their curriculum management, Herman says. He expects the industry to continue taking positive steps, and he wants Alma to play a significant role in that.

Persistence is fundamental for startups, Herman says. Staying in constant communication with customers is critical in understanding and meeting their needs.

James Lafferty-Furphy, director of operations at Creative Minds International Public Charter School in D.C., said Alma is great for small schools. He uses its features to track attendance and to store medical, contact and pick-up information for students.

“We were one of the first schools to sign up in the early days, and as such agreed to be a guinea pig to send constant feedback on any issues,” he said. “I still do this from time to time and always find [Alma] to be grateful for this feedback.”

After ultimately finding success with his young startup, Hassan now has advice to other entrepreneurs: Manage people well, and keep your priorities in check, he says.

“The people you hire are the ones that really make your company succeed or fail,” Hassan said. “I’m just steering in a direction, but they’re really rowing the boat.”

Hassan sees entrepreneurs fail too often because they are more focused on chasing money than improving society. Instead, he encourages entrepreneurs to work on building up the business and customer base without investor dollars. If it can’t be done without a big investment, there is little chance that it will be successful otherwise, he says.

“I would challenge everyone to really think about why you’re doing it. Is it for altruistic purposes—do you want to improve education—or do you just want to make money?” he said. “If you’re just in it for the money, I don’t think you should be an edtech entrepreneur.”

Danica Smithwick

As a member of 1776’s editorial team, Danica Smithwick spends her time telling stories and communicating with others. She is a Union University and Washington Journalism Center student who loves…