We had the good fortune of connecting with Joanna Smith-Griffin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joanna, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I started my educational career as a Miami Dade Public Schools student! My kindergarten teacher, Ms. Judith Valentine, valued my family as partners in my education and I carried that experience with me through grade school and college. It’s also part of what inspired me to go into education; after college, I taught middle school math and quickly learned that some of the biggest challenges to student achievement originate from outside of the classroom.
The company I started is AllHere. AllHere is a venture-capital backed startup that combines conversational AI, behavioral science, and text messaging to foster attendance and engagement in K-12 education. We’re pioneering the use of conversational chatbots in schools to provide 24/7 coaching and support for families.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Imagine if every student’s family had a personal advisor to guide them through school. That’s what AllHere has built for K-12 education; a conversational chatbot that makes 24/7 support possible for every single family.
AllHere is a leader in applying conversational AI and chatbots in the context of K-12 education, but that hasn’t always been easy or true. When I started the company, we first focused on supporting schools to work with families in heavy-lift ways (e.g., meetings and home visits). In 2020, after the pandemic hit, we made a pivotal decision to shift our services to be bot-based, and thus enhance our ability to support families and students whether or not they were physically in-school. That pivot put us at the front of the pack in this space and helped us to authentically serve our clients whilst expanding our impact on student outcomes.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
EAT: The Salty Donut; Santorini’s by Georgios; Bamboo Shack DRINK: an ice cold Switcha from Bamboo Shack, preferably with a Conch Snack
VISIT: Perez Museum of Art; Frost Science Museum; Wynwood Art Walls
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to give a shout out to the Softbank Opportunity Fund, my first investor in the Miami area. I believe an investor should be a strategic partner, and Softbank has proven to be so much more than that for me. Since they opened their doors in Miami, the Opportunity Fund has played a major role in making Miami a real player in the startup world. I want to thank them for believing in my vision and supporting so many other founders like me in a region that has often been overlooked by traditional venture capital.
Please credit the second image (with the blue background) to the photographer Mamadi Doumbouya