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$10-a-month math help, from Newton-based TenMarks

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 2, 2010 08:00 AM

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Joining Boston's cluster of e-learning ventures is TenMarks, a company focused on helping kids improve their math skills. 

Following an initial assessment test, students get a customized curriculum that can cover any of 1000 mathematical concepts from fractions to the area of a triangle. "When kids listen to music, they want to hear their own playlist," says co-founder Rohit Agarwal. "Any kind of media and content that kids are consuming outside of the classroom is personalized to them. But fundamentally, teaching hasn't changed."

The company is initially planning to market the subscription-based service ($10 a month, following a 15-day free trial) to parents with kids in grades three to ten. But there are also pilot programs happening at Boston-area schools, and a national after-school program, and Agarwal says TenMarks will also pursue that kind of high-volume customer relationship.

The company hopes to eventually expand its online learning programs to other subjects. "Parents have told us that they want grammar and vocabulary to be next," Agarwal says.

TenMarks co-founder Andrew Joseph says the company has already developed "hundreds of thousands of questions and problems, which each have three hints to help students get to the answer, and a step-by-step solution that shows exactly how to do it." There are also more than 2000 video lessons, of three-to-five minutes each.

TenMarks, founded in late 2008, raised its first outside financing last September, from a group of angel investors that included Jill Preotle, Jean Hammond, and Kelly Pope, formerly VP of technology at Classroom Connect. The company officially launched its service last month.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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