Instructure was founded in 2008 by two graduate students who were studying software usability on unusable learning software. With guidance and seed funding from Josh Coates — who later became and still is the company’s CEO — they set out to design and build a learning platform that would make teaching and learning easier.
Before they wrote any code, our founders launched their legendary “product validation tour.” In a Geo Metro with no air conditioning, they drove throughout the West, visiting 17 universities and gathering critical feedback from students, instructors and administrators that would lay the groundwork for the Canvas learning management system, or LMS.
In 2010, with a skeleton crew of just 20 employees, Instructure won a major contract with the Utah Education Network (UEN) to provide Canvas as the statewide LMS at all Utah public schools and state-funded colleges and universities. Selected as the most innovative of eight systems in a highly-competitive evaluation process, Canvas became the new online learning platform for more than 100,000 Utah students.
Following our success with UEN, Instructure formally launched Canvas in February 2011. As open-source software and the only true, native cloud LMS, it set a new, open standard for education technology. In 2015, we launched Bridge, an employee development suite for businesses. That was also the year we went public on the NYSE.
Flash forward to 2018, and Instructure is now a thriving public company with a headcount of more than 1,200, offices all over the world and a reputation for making teaching, learning and employee development easier. (Not bad for a company that started with a couple of college students on a road trip).