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Winner of 2024 Power of Women award — Anupama Vaid on Parenting and Academics

Founder and President of ParentSquare, Anupama Vaid found the company in 2011 to bridge the gap between parent experience in school communications

BUY-SELL | HELP WANTED | MATRIMONIAL

Anupama Vaid with family

ZOFEEN MAQSOOD

Parent Square recently acquired Remind, one of the largest free services in education used in over 80% of public schools and by 60% of teachers in the U.S. Together they serve over 18 million student families on their paid platform.

Santa Barbara based Indian-American entrepreneur Anupama, Anu Vaid has been scaling new heights with her parent-school communication platform ParentSquare. Recently she was among 14 winners of 2024 Power of Women award instituted by GSV Ventures, a multi-stage venture capital firm focused on more than $7 trillion global education and workforce skills sector.

The Power of Women award recognizes influential female leaders who are bringing about a world that provides equal access to the future through the promise of education. For Anu, who founded the company during a sabbatical from her Santa Barbara home when she saw a need to enhance the parent experience in school communications she navigated the same with her small children.

Today she along with her husband, Sohit who is the CEO of ParentSquare, have not only expanded the team, secured first round of funding and partnering with schools beyond their hometown of Santa Barbara but have also managed to grow ParentSquare enormously. They recently acquired Remind, one of the largest free services in education used in over 80% of public schools and by 60% of teachers in the U.S. Together they serve over 18M student families on their paid platform.

In between her travels, Anu took out time to talk with Hi India to explain the concept behind ParentSquare and why it matters to have a seamless communication between parents and schools.

Anupama Vaid

You founded Parent Square after seeing some significant gaps in parent-school communication. Talk to us more about it. From your own experiences if you would like to give any anecdotes on where you think there was a gap which the medium you conceptualized could bridge?

When my daughter started kindergarten in 2008, I was a working parent and struggled to keep track of the various communications being sent home from my kids’ school. The teachers at my kids’ school were sending flyers home in backpacks – a lot of them that I had to check daily – PTA was using Google groups, the school office was sending robocalls home and the principal was using emails—all of this was going on independently, and it was a lot for parents to follow.

It wasn’t until I took a sabbatical the following year and had more direct involvement in my daughter’s school activities that I realized the power of fostering stronger connections between parents and teachers. Being present for pickups allowed me to form a deeper bond with her teacher and witness firsthand the importance of seamless communication between home and school.

I envisioned a 21st-century solution that would unify these fragmented channels of communication, providing a centralized platform for parents, teachers, and administrators to connect effortlessly. Thus, the idea for ParentSquare was born.

So, when my son started kindergarten in the fall of 2010, my husband and I decided to pursue this journey. That was the origin of ParentSquare, which has become the premier safe and secure digital platform for all school-home communication.

Today you are serving close to 18 M US families on your platform. Does it feel surreal? What was your vision when you started?
Reaching close to 18 million families on our platform today is indeed a remarkable milestone—one that feels both fulfilling and surreal. When we embarked on the journey of creating ParentSquare, our vision was clear: to improve school-home communication by providing a digital tool that bridges the gap between educators and families.

At that time, we started ParentSquare, the landscape was vastly different. There were next to no tools for helping teachers communicate with families and none that solved the problem of disparate communications across the school and districts. Our ambition was to fill this void with a comprehensive platform that streamlines communication channels and fosters collaboration between schools and families. I talked to the principal at my kids’ school, and she loved the idea of a technology-driven communications platform. She actually connected me with two teachers to help build the product.

Developing the whole child has to be the shared responsibility of teachers and parents, and that happens more easily with a collaborative approach to communications. If we can involve parents in their children’s education more effectively and make them full partners with their child’s teacher, that’s a huge key to improving education.

Though early adoption was good at the local schools, we struggled to move beyond our hometown. The first few years were definitely very hard especially since we were new to both the American education system having studied in India, and also new to how to sell to schools. It took us about 4 years to get to our first breakthrough and schools outside our hometown of Santa Barbara.

Today, as we reflect on the journey thus far, we are immensely proud of the impact ParentSquare has had on facilitating meaningful connections between schools and families nationwide.

As an Indian-origin parent did you feel a more active academic involvement in your kids’ education. Is that notion true for Indian/Asian parents?
Yes, it’s true that Indian families often prioritize their children’s education and hold high expectations—a value deeply ingrained in our culture, and I like that. However, our decision to raise our children in Santa Barbara, a community with relatively few Indian families, offered a unique perspective on this notion. In my daughter’s school, for instance, Indian families were a minority, comprising only three out of 750 students. This prompted us to prioritize not just academic excellence but also a sense of belonging and community for our children. We really wanted to be sure that our kids felt like they were part of a family which is not only about academics all the time. Fortunately, our children were able to manage their homework independently from an early age.

Moreover, the well-rounded and lower pressure of the education system in Santa Barbara resonated with us. The school offered a lot of art and music programs, and just like other families, we used to watch our kids play sports on weekends. We assimilated well with what the Santa Barbara community around us was doing.

You recently made it to the Power of Women list. What do awards and recognitions such as these mean for you and for your company?
It’s truly humbling to be included among such amazing women on the Power of Women list who are innovating and making a huge impact in their companies, their communities and in the education technology space.

To me, this recognition isn’t just about me—it’s about the collective effort of our team at ParentSquare and the impact we’re making. It’s a validation that our work is not only impactful but is also inspiring to others. It boosts our morale and motivates us to continue pushing boundaries and innovating in the education space.

Could you explain ParentSquare and how it works for our readers?

ParentSquare has evolved to be more than just a communication platform—it’s the go-to hub for all school-related needs, fostering seamless connections between schools, families, teachers, students, and staff.

ParentSquare brings alive all those paper flyers, notices, forms, and reports that previously cluttered your child’s backpack. Think of messages home full of pictures and videos along with essential updates like attendance, lunch balance, grades, bus delays notifications, progress reports all under one platform. Parents can easily fill forms and sign permission slips or RSVP for events. Teachers can request volunteers, class supplies, donations, and even easy sign-ups for parent-teacher conferences.

Going beyond school-home communication, ParentSquare also facilitates teacher-student interactions, enabling communication with prospective families, and fostering engagement within the broader school community. With school websites from ParentSquare, you can write messages once and also keep your communities informed, showcasing school achievements and opportunities for prospective families and staff recruitment.

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