Felipe Sommer has a passion for technology and education. Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Nearpod, a mobile platform that focuses on empowering educators to create learning experiences that engage and inspire millions of students around the world, Sommer started out in management consulting.
He spent ten years with Accenture before moving to Miami and becoming an entrepreneur in 2004. His first venture was Livin’ Interactive, which focused on custom experiential marketing solutions. It was that fervor for technology and education that fueled his desire to empower teachers and engage students with a mobile platform that led to the creation of Nearpod in 2012. In 2019, Nearpod acquired Flocabulary, an educational content company that delivers its lessons through hip hop.“We saw explosive growth in student users this past year, reaching a total of 1.8 million new students and partnering with 161 new school districts since the start of the 2018-2019 school year alone.” - @felipenearpod Click To Tweet
In early 2020, when schools around the United States and around the world were forced to close amid a worldwide Pandemic, Nearpod was essential in getting teachers and students alike through this unprecedented time by offering free access to schools impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic, and they were honored to do so. Through Nearpod, teachers were able to offer students a remote learning experience through video, quizzes and even digital field trips. It had all the makings of a company to stay with.
However, Nearpod was recently acquired for $650 million by Renaissance Learning, a Wisconsin based K-12 software company, in what Sommer calls an “interesting transaction.” For his speaking engagement, Sommer will be here to talk about his exit strategy and share tips on handing over a company you’ve created to someone else, especially amid a global pandemic when your product is in high demand. In 2020 alone, Nearpod grew by 50%. It’s used in all 50 states and in nearly 2000 school districts with 1 million teachers using the product and 2-3 million students accessing it daily.“We saw the company doing really, really well, we felt it was also a personal decision. We were ready to move on and close this chapter at a good moment.” - @felipenearpod Click To Tweet
“It is important to understand where you are as a company,” Sommer says about his exit strategy. For Sommer and his team, they wanted a full exit and wanted Nearpod in the hands of a company who could take the platform to the next level and having a partner on the investment side is key to a good exit. “It would be a mistake to go into an exit without advice from a professional,” says Sommer. With that said, there is an element of going with your gut that Sommer used as well. “We saw the company doing really, really well,” he says, “we felt it was also a personal decision. We were ready to move on and close this chapter at a good moment.”
None of it could have been done without Sommer’s team, however. “No one has a company without a strong team,” Sommer says and his team was integral in all parts of the transition process. A team is what a potential buyer evaluates and without a strong team, the potential buyer will want out. Over the years, Nearpod built a very interesting team that grew the company significantly.“Of course, this pandemic was a huge push for us, but we were in the right place with the right technology. The company and the product is super strong. I look forward to seeing what Renaissance is going to do.” - @felipenearpod Click To Tweet
After a well deserved break, Sommer plans to start his next endeavor in the impact space while becoming even more involved in the thriving Miami entrepreneur scene.
For more from Felipe Sommer on entrepreneurship, join him for his talk on exit strategies and creating a successful acquisition on August 18th by joining Founders Network and signing up to attend. Register now or request an invite to see if you qualify for membership and to learn more of these key takeaways:
- Understanding where you are as a company
- The benefits of a strong team
- Knowing when to exit