Declara, based out of Palo Alto, California, is an intelligent social networking platform designed to observe how people learn and adjust accordingly. Declara is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Ramona Pierson, and has, to date, raised over $21M in venture backed capital through two separate rounds, with heavyweight investor names such as Peter Thiel backing the company.
Prior to its seemingly overnight success, Declara was an incredibly ambitious idea, centered around predictive and machine learning technologies and spun out of Pierson Labs, the original parent company and namesake of Ramona Pierson. Pierson Labs approached ISBX in the fall of 2012 with the goal of building a suite of intelligent mobile products centered around the social interactions of people like journalists, and educators. These applications, more than just social networks, were designed to collect an array of content - anything from simple text, to conversations, topics and images, within an accessible platform that would enable the users, use of such features like the camera, location based services, and a general medium to interact with other users regardless of where they were. These apps were targeted towards a broad range of topics such as social issues and progressive learning, with the ultimate goal of validating ones own personal learning experience.
At the earliest stages of the engagement, the client was absent of its own development team, and exclusively relied on ISBX for the daunting task of assessing significant amounts of highly proprietary concepts and distilling these into an executable product - in one specific case, building the first pieces of the platform for the largest, national, non-profit and government run education system, within a highly compressed time frame.
The nature of the project, a fast-evolving and constantly improving software system, required an equally well adapted project management and software development methodology to support it. ISBX determined that using an Agile/SCRUM process would allow both teams to iterate and enhance the platform on an almost real-time basis while allowing for valuable product feedback by its stakeholders. Through the use of its Certified Scrum Masters (CSM), ISBX's robust program management process addressed things like:
- Building the core software product
- Enhancing the core software product with new systems and features
- Developer operations such as scalable infrastructure enhancements and configurability
- Software Releases and Release Planning
- Regression and Quality Assurance Testing
- Engaging with the Client on the overall vision
ISBX was also granted partial ownership and responsibility of the product itself, allowing us to make critical decisions in the product planning phases to assure successful delivery of the product in aggressive timeframes. ISBX credits the synergistic relationship with Pierson Labs in enabling it accessibility to lightning fast decisions and the eventually shaping of the Declara product as it stands today.
The engagement also served as a testament to ISBX's concentrated expertise in building technology solution and leveraged our experience in advanced technologies such as:
- Elastic Search
- Natural Language Processing
- Architecture of Horizontally Scalable Frameworks
- Building and Adapting Social Network Platforms
The result was one of the most successful launches of a startup in ISBX's experience, with the first official round of seed funding occurring in September of 2013 leading up to a Series A round in April of 2014. ISBX continues to remain engaged and active with Declara, operating a dedicated team of software development professionals for the continually growing startup.
Below is a Timeline of History
- October 15, 2012 - Pierson Labs engages ISBX to operate a team of dedicated software developers
- December 7, 2013 - Pierson Labs and ISBX launch the first Declara.com teaser site
- March 13, 2013 - Declara hires its first in-house software developer
- March 18, 2013 - ISBX releases the Beta Version of Declara's first product, a mobile social application.
- March 20, 2013 - Declara moves into its first office on 977 Commercial Street where it exists today. ISBX attends the open house.
- May 1st, 2013 - Pierson Labs and ISBX launch the first iteration of the Declara Social Network.
- June 27, 2013 - Pierson Labs is officially redirected to Declara.com
- September 13, 2013 - ISBX launches the Declara site re-design.
- September 27, 2013 - Declara closes $5M Seed Round with Peter Thiel, Founders Fund, and Data Collective
- October 1, 2013 - ISBX hands over day-to-day developer operations and project management to Declara's team; remains engaged in its capacity of operating a dedicated software team.
- November 26, 2013 - Ramona Pierson is interviewed on Bloomberg TV
- April 23, 2014 - Declara closes $16M Series A Round lead by GSV Capital, Catamount Ventures, Data Collective, and Founders Fund