Photo: Kaizena co-founders Maxwell Brodie (left) and Edward Sun in the University of Waterloo Velocity Garage.

Change is often uncomfortable, but when it comes to the classroom, using feedback to make changes to your work is what drives improvement. This learning process inspired the creation of Kaizena, a University of Waterloo Velocity company whose name literally means ‘good change.’

Today the company announced it has secured $900,000 in seed funding from some notable investors, including LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Keynote Systems founder Umang Gupta, who was an early Oracle vice president. U.S.-based NewSchools Seed Fund and Hong Kong’s Horizons Ventures (the private investment arm of billionaire Li Ka-shing) are also investors, along with BetterCompany founder and Apple alumni Tom Williams, and Seattle philanthropist Victor Alcantara.

Kaizena co-founders Maxwell Brodie and Edward Sun are on a mission to reinvent the red pen. Their software enables teachers to mark their students assignments online, using built-in tools like voice comments, that are more efficient and integrative than marking by hand. With each draft accessible online, feedback is delivered at every step of the way to help students maximize their learning.

Securing serious investment is one of the biggest challenges for young startups in Canada. Kaizena seems to have overcome this challenge by developing a solution to a universal problem at a time that makes sense for financial backers, as the education sector undergoes disruption.

“People who have seen the rise of the Internet also see something very similar happening in education technology,” said Brodie. “The very beginning of this market looks a lot like the beginning of the Internet. Once, everyone was doing things manually with pen and paper. Education is one of the last segments where that is still true.”

While Kaizena is already used by thousands of teachers and students in 80 countries, the funding will equip the company to expand at a much faster pace.

“With every dollar (in the future) that we generate, that dollar can be reinvested into the company, and further allows it to scale,” said Brodie. “If there’s one thing that startups are designed to do, it’s to scale. It’s the only thing that separates a startup sandwich shop from a Subway. If we can achieve scale, then we have achieved impact.”

Brodie and Sun had the opportunity to go through the Imagine K12 EdTech Accelerator in San Francisco. While the co-founders valued their time in the Valley, they look to Waterloo as a haven for startups, and are proud to call the region home for Kaizena.

“I’m very impressed with the Waterloo story,” Sun said. “When I look at that ranking of a bunch of cities that are considered the top tech ecosystems, you have these large global cities like L.A., New York, Toronto. Then, within them, you have this relatively much smaller city. It’s just there, among the top startup cities in the world. I look at this, and it’s incredible.”