At teacher conferences, I’m often asked how SimplyCircle differs from a group text messaging platform Remind (formerly Remind 101). Here’s my take on it.

Here are some advantages of SimplyCircle over Remind:

  • SimplyCircle does much more than reminding. It includes parent engagement driving features such as online signup sheets (where parents can sign up to attend a parent-teacher conference, volunteer in the classroom, or bring snacks to a classroom party, etc), RSVPs, commenting on group posts, and collecting payments for field trips, PTA dues, and more.
  • SimplyCircle is more versatile and can be used by many different types of parent community leaders beyond teachers: PTA/PTO leaders, scout troop leaders, sports team coaches, after-school activities, etc. In contrast, Remind is specifically designed for teacher-parent communication, and is limited to that use case.
  • That means that if you’re a parent at a school that uses SimplyCircle school-wide, you need just one app to receive communication from your teacher, your PTA leader, your soccer coach, and your scout troop leader. Everything is consolidated into a single Daily Digest email and a single Morning Reminder. The calendar, the newsfeed, the archive of photos and documents – all of them include all the different groups that you belong to. That reduces “information overload” and manual copying-and-pasting that parents have to do, and make them more likely to tune in and engage.
  • SimplyCircle is explicitly designed as an online parent portal. It was built for parents, by parents. It has a newsfeed with recent posts, an online calendar with automated email reminders, engagement-driving features such as online signups and RSVPs, and a permanent and private group archive of all photos and documents shared with the group. Remind was originally designed for teacher-student communication and reminders – parents mostly “come along for the ride”.

On the other hand, here are some advantages of Remind:

  • Remind is a VC-funded startup, and it all of its services is currently free. In contrast, SimplyCircle offers a basic version of its software for free, and charges $9.99 per month or $24.99 per month for advanced versions (annual price plans let you save 33%).
  • Remind supports text messaging whereas SimplyCircle does not. In fact, originally Remind was limited to text messaging, and only later did they add mobile apps and email support.

And here are the areas where SimplyCircle and Remind are comparable:

  • Both provide secure and private communication between group leaders (e.g., teachers) and group members (e.g., parents).
  • Both services ensure your compliance with CAN-SPAM and other applicable laws (e.g., providing instant unsubscribe options for group members).
  • Both allow users over 13 to use the service (with parental permission).
  • Both allow members to join the group via either an email invitation or by entering a unique group invitation code.

Bottom line is this:

  • If you’re a teacher, you can experiment with both services and then decide which one better meets your needs. If you need text messaging, Remind is a better option. If you want to drive more active parent engagement and additional features such as online signup sheets and event RSVPs, SimplyCircle is better.
  • If you’re a different type of parent community leader such as a PTA or scout troop leader, a spots team coach, or a principal at a school that encourages family engagement at all different levels, SimplyCircle is a better choice. Give it a try for free today!