Top Hat Adds Gene Murray from Blackboard and Matt York from Achievers to Team

This week, Toronto-based startup Top Hat announced two new executives to the team.

Gene Murray, an education technology veteran, will be the new Vice President of Sales. Matt York, a SaaS engineering expert, will take on the role as Vice President of Technology. With new leadership, Top Hat is hoping to reach the next stage of development as the company moves towards campus-wide adoptions.

“I am excited to be coming on board at such a transformative stage for Top Hat,” says Murray, with over 12 years of experience in sales at Blackboard, the leading learning management system. “Its technology is second to none, and its user base is already impressive. There is considerable momentum from educators already, and I look forward to working with the team as we make Top Hat the campus-wide solution to drive student engagement at universities around the world.”

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The old sales strategy for Top Hat relied heavily on individual professor adoptions to increase revenue. But after receiving a number of requests from institutions, Top Hat adjusted its approach and aimed for a campus-wide license.

Top Hat allows students to respond to real-time questions and polls raised by instructors, as well as participate in discussions, complete in class-wide tournaments, run interactive simulations and more by taking advantage of the students’ smartphones or web-enabled devices. The convenient method of working over WiFi or SMS allows Top Hat to heighten engagement, retention, comprehension and the over all learning experience.

“At our current rate of expansion, it is imperative that we have an experienced, visionary VP of Engineering,” said Top Hat CEO, Mike Silagadze. “Matt [York] will focus on scaling our engineering team and process so we can continue to build innovative products which meet the needs of our rapidly growing client base. In parallel with that, he and his team will build out scalable architecture to meet the user growth accompanying that adoption.”

 In April, the Canadian startup, a provider of technology-based classroom and homework innovations, brought on board SaaS industry veteran Ralf Riekers as chief financial officer and educational industry executive Malgosia Green as chief product officer.

Case studies and data from current professors indicate grade increases of 3-5% and attendance increasing upwards of 30% when using TopHat.