Mar 2015 - Present 7 years 7 months
New York City
ClassTag is the platform for parent engagement, providing teachers and schools with automated communications, incentives and reporting to increase parent engagement, improve student outcomes and make teachers’ jobs easier.
Apr 2007 - Jun 2012 5 years 3 months
Freshman Fund is a gift registry for college savings plans. Parents and friends can send money directly to any 529 plan through the site. Sold to Gradsave.com.
Jan 2001 - Feb 2005 4 years 2 months
I develop curriculum and teach open enrollment courses on entrepreneurship, leadership and business planning.
1994 - 2000 6 years
Greater Philadelphia Area
The online music retailing pioneer. Went public on NASDAQ in 1998, sold to Bertelsmann in 2000.
1992 - 1994 2 years
1987 - 1992
Activities and Societies: Alpha Delta Phi
1980 - 1987
Mar 2018 - Present4 years 7 months
Greater New York City Area
Jan 2015 - Feb 2018 3 years 2 months
Greater New York City Area
Jul 2012 - Dec 2014 2 years 6 months
New York, NY
Jan 2010 - Jul 2012 2 years 7 months
2008 - Mar 2010 2 years
new york, new york
2007 - 2007 less than a year
2006 - 2008
Vlada Lotkina: revolutionising communication between schools and parents
Origin: Kharkiv, Ukraine
Based in: Miami, United States
Education: Kharkiv University & The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (MBA)
Occupation: Founder & CEO – ClassTag
Vlada Lotkina was born and raised in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. From a young age, she was very involved in her father’s business of importing designer furniture and household appliances from Europe, attended the negotiations and was involved in managing the accounts. Lotkina’s parents knew the value of a good education and made sure their daughter was receiving the best one possible. They set very high standards for Lotkina, who met those standards as a teenager by organising a successful and well-attended international symposium.
Lotkina’s experience working in her father’s business gave her the confidence to begin her own business venture at just 17. It was a product design consulting service using a network of 150 product designers in Ukraine. In this first business venture, she had to convince international clients to invest not only in her business but in the entire brand and image of Ukraine. The business was a success and received the Ukrainian government’s “Golden Fortune” Award.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Lotkina was determined to move to the U.S. and study there to learn from innovative companies at the forefront of their industry. She applied to the three top MBA (Master of Business Administration) programmes in the country and was accepted into the Wharton School at the age of 22.
After graduating from Wharton in 2008, Lotkina wanted to start her own business immediately but knew she needed a visa sponsorship to continue living in the U.S. In order to secure a visa sponsorship and receive a green card, she took a corporate job at Boston Consulting Group and later worked as a senior director at Dell.
The idea for ClassTag, a parent-teacher communication app, came about a few months after Lotkina’s daughter started kindergarten. Lotkina was overwhelmed by the amount of information she was receiving from different channels, from handwritten notes to signup sheets on the doors, to emails, texts, and the school website. She discovered that parents in her daughter’s class felt the same way and Jason Olim, who had a son in the same class and also happened to be a serial entrepreneur and former CEO of a successful company, teamed up with Lotkina to co-found ClassTag and solve the issue themselves. ClassTag was launched in 2016.
Lotkina knew in order for ClassTag to grow she had to offer it as a free product first and gain revenue from family-friendly brand promotions. ClassTag also became more accessible by becoming available in 55+ languages. ClassTag manages to keep parents engaged by gamifying the process so, as Lotkina explains, “the more parents engage with the teacher by doing things like volunteering and reading messages, the more classroom supplies they can get for their child’s classroom, for free, from our brand sponsors”. ClassTag has attracted brands such as Amazon, H&M, Penguin Random House, National Geographic Explorer, and Clorox. By 2019, ClassTag had managed to raise $2.7 million in seed capital from a coalition of investors, including Founder Collective, Newark Venture Partners and Trail Mix Ventures.
While most businesses suffered during a lockdown, the need for efficient communication for remote learning meant that ClassTag succeeded exponentially and opened new business lines. The first new business line Lotkina opened was eCommerce, where donations collected for teachers can be used to purchase items for the classroom. Lotkina knew these donations were essential as “I was shocked to learn that 92% of teachers are spending on average $500 out of pocket on essential supplies.” In 2020, Lotkina launched a SaaS product ClassTag Connect, an all-in-one engagement platform that helps schools build flourishing communities from classroom to district and engages all parents by using insights and accessibility across languages and acquisition channels. Due to the enlargement of ClassTag during the pandemic, the company is predicted to triple its revenue in 2021.
ClassTag currently has 25,000 schools participating, 5 million engaged parents, $3 million in rewards for teachers and has received $8.9 million in venture capital funding. Lotkina knew it would be hard to raise this amount of money for her start-up as the tech-ed industry was already overcrowded, even back in 2015. Despite being female and an immigrant, CEOs and founders who invested in ClassTag did not have any bias towards Lotkina. She states that many other entrepreneurs and business people in the U.S. are well-travelled and many of them grew up in foreign countries, making them more sympathetic to Lotkina’s journey and background and therefore more likely to invest in her product.
This year, Lotkina was recognised by the American Consortium for Equity in Education as one of the Top 20 Women Leading the Education Industry.
Quote: “I avoided setting easily achievable goals for myself, and that led to a lot of hard work and determination.”
John founded Edison in 1986 and is General Partner for Edison I-VII. He transitioned leadership of the firm to Chris Sugden in 2013. John has been a venture capitalist for 37 years, participating in more than 150 equity financings and serving as a director of 55 companies. He is well known in the Mid-Atlantic region business community and nationally in the private equity industry. He serves as a director of four Edison portfolio companies.
John is a former Chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, serving as a director for eight years. At the 2006 NVCA Annual Meeting, John received the NVCA Service Award. He is co-founder and former chairman of the New Jersey Technology Council, and former chairman of PACT (previously Greater Philadelphia Venture Group).
John earned a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy, an M.S. in Astronautics from Purdue, and an MBA from Southern Illinois University. All three institutions honored John with their top alumni accomplishment award. He received honorary doctorates from Rider and Rowan Universities.