ReadyRosie, a Denton-based early learning company, is now a part of Teaching Strategies, an education technology developer.
Led by Emily Roden, ReadyRosie started in 2012 to create mobile and web applications for parents to help teach their children outside of the classroom. As the company has grown to serve more than 6,500 Head Start programs, child care centers and elementary schools nationwide, other education leaders have taken notice of the company’s growth.
Conversations about an acquisition started organically, as ReadyRosie customers asked if they had considered aligning their tools with in-classroom resources for teachers, like the ones produced by Maryland-based Teaching Strategies, Roden said.
Over the course of seven or eight months, talks got more serious and both companies thought a merger would advance both company missions.
“We’re both big on social impact, we’re regular for-profit companies, but what makes us grow and be profitable is having results for young children,” Roden said. “That impact model drives both of our organizations. There was a really good mission alignment and a very good culture alignment.”
Teaching Strategies, which was founded 40 years ago, focuses building resources and assessment tools for early education classrooms, said John Olsen, CEO of Teaching Strategies. They’ve spent time looking at other companies to address the parent engagement portion that they’ve been missing, he said. ReadyRosie ticked all of the boxes between its research-based approach and easily consumable videos that are manageable for parents to complete.
“The thing that’s most helpful for us and ReadyRosie is there’s good research that shows early childhood education can drive better outcomes for kids as they grow older,” he said. “If we do this right, at the point in time their brains are being formed, we have the biggest opportunities to create impact.”
With the merger, ReadyRosie will be able to grow faster and will be aligned with Teaching Strategies products that exist in classrooms for teachers around the country, Roden said. The companies are working on product alignment and integration for now, and increasing hires for the ReadyRosie team.
“For our users and customer base, the advantage to them is they’ll start seeing that the Teaching Strategies tools in the classrooms will be tightly connected to the family engagement tools ReadyRosie provides,” she said. “There’s only advantages for our customers.”
Olsen noted the company will look in the next year to add more workers or another office in Denton, and will continue to look at options to grow their footprint in town.
“Denton is a very interesting town and to see some of the great things going on down there, beyond being excited about ReadyRosie we’re excited about Denton and how we could grow down there,” he said.
That prospect is another milestone in working to build Denton’s budding technology and startup scene, said Marshall Culpepper, co-owner of the coworking space Stoke and the CEO of space technology company Kubos. For the startup scene, the acquisition serves as inspiration to take locally founded companies to the next level, he said.
“There’s a lot of sweat equity that goes into the early days when you’re not paying yourself ... or going into debt. Selling your business to another large business is a way to build value,” Culpepper said. “Startups are here building real value and we are doing what we said we’ll do.”