- Tech Insights
Daniel Stedman is the Founder and CEO of Pressto. In a community with over 50 languages spoken, he felt a desire to get involved in the civic community of Brooklyn. He spoke with dozens of high schools about their journalism programs, including James Madison High School, where Bernie Sanders, Charles Schumer, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg attended high school. He found something in common with all of these schools – their student newspaper programs had been abandoned. This was the origin of Pressto.
Daniel spent months speaking with students, parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, chancellors, and mayors and found that there would be a strong desire for a product that helped students with critical writing and media literacy. Pressto captures the zeitgeist of the moment at the intersection of education, mental health, creator culture, and media civility. Teachers and parents are looking to modernize their approach to critical writing and media literacy: Pressto does both with proprietary technology that uses AI and machine learning to give students real-time feedback as they write.
Daniel bootstrapped the early MVP and found that he had created someone that people wanted. Shortly after that, he raised a pre-seed round of funding and now has an active pilot in New York City, Canada, and Brazil.
"Pressto is an educational platform that develops strong writing skills in students by making writing playful and fun."
With their very first product, the company’s early adopters said, “Pressto is easy to use.” Pressto is building a robust back-end for teachers and developing more features and more learning opportunities while still keeping the student-facing front end incredibly simple, fun, intuitive, and easy to use. They rely strongly on AI and machine learning, but they would not term themselves as AI or ML companies. “We are built on the most advanced software, but we are not chasing trends. We are focused on nurturing critical writing and media literacy in students and giving young people voice and agency. We’ll use whatever tools necessary in order to reach our north star.”
According to Daniel, “We all agree that we want children to be kind. In this regard, we are doing better than we think. But divisiveness and trust in media has eroded, and social media is making kids unhappy.” Pressto is nurturing critical writing and media literacy in students. Schools need to teach critical writing, and there is a growing interest in media literacy, as seen in legislation being passed all around the USA. In five years, media literacy will be a required curriculum at the federal level, and Pressto will be used in core curriculum throughout the world.
The company had a class in Brooklyn that started using Pressto in a history class. They found it easy to implement and those students were using it and sharing ‘tips and tricks with each other before the teacher even had a chance to start the instruction. It was so successful that they later used it for a poetry class and social and emotional learning. This was a special ed class, so it was particularly rewarding for the Pressto team to see their software used in a way that gives voice to the student who otherwise has had difficulty learning. Principal Gundersen, New York City, states, “We were interested in the program specifically because we wanted to inspire our learners. It’s done that and more. The program is intuitive. Students got on without any assistance. Overall, I couldn’t say enough good things about the program. Our students love it, the teacher loves it, and it’s inspired our writers. You couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
Pressto is actively hiring developers, engineers, and marketers and expects to be in over 1,000 classrooms in September and used in classrooms worldwide. “We are primarily focused on building the educational features within Pressto,” says Daniel. “We aim to keep the student-facing side of Pressto very simple and intuitive, so students continue to feel like it’s their own, while teachers can use the back-end to direct students to learn a wide variety of important life skills.” IE
Founder and CEO of Pressto
Pressto is an educational platform that develops strong writing skills and media literacy in students by making writing playful and fun. We help students to develop a healthy relationship with what they create and consume. Our ethos is to be accessible to all learners. Teachers and parents are looking to modernize their approach to critical writing and media literacy: Pressto does both.