This is a guest post by Rita J. Chesterton, Co-Founder and CEO, skaffl, llc.
10 short months ago I was tasked with the job of helping 12 teachers and 200 students pilot a program that would eventually lead to my school district providing every student and teacher grades 7-12 an iPad of their very own. I went looking for an app to help teachers manage document workflow in the classroom. The basics of distributing and collecting assignments. I went online and starting searching, but instead of finding a solution, I found more and more teachers on the same quest.
I’d never developed a mobile application before, I’d never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but I wanted a solution and I couldn’t find it, so one day I decided I was going to create the solution. I teamed up with a co-worker from my district (Mike) and together we went to Startup Weekend Lehigh Valley to pitch our idea, hoping that we could find someone or several someones with the technical skills to take my idea and turn it into a product.
After 54 hours, we were exhausted, but we had what we came for. Proof that our concept would work, and proof that the business plan was viable. We left the weekend with a small demo of a functioning assignment distribution and collection app, a promotional video, a better idea of how we could market our product, then called “Rung” to teachers and schools, and a win.
But we left with something way more. It was at Startup Weekend, that Mike and I met our technical co-founder, the missing link in the equation, someone who could take my idea and turn it into the ones and zeros that would eventually become the App. Matt agreed to join our team. Together with art director, Angie (who wasn’t at Startup Weekend) we created Skaffl and began to work on the app that is now called Braket. Since that initial Startup Weekend we’ve redesigned our initial concept and expanded the vision for what Braket can be for teachers.
It’s been 10 months now of rolling up our sleeves, for the four of us, as we navigate all the ups and downs of creating a startup from scratch. But the hard work is beginning to pay off. In July we were accepted as a part of the Ben Franklin Tech Partners (a State incubator program) portfolio. Just two weeks later we got the news that we had been accepted to be a part of the TechCrunch Disrupt SF Battlefield, an event where 30 companies get to pitch live on stage and in front of a global audience. Within hours of the event teachers and administrators from all over the globe were requesting to join our beta.
It’s still sinking in – less than a year ago I was the Technology Integration Specialist (and former teacher) at a local school district looking for solutions to teachers’ tech frustrations. Now I’m a first time CEO juggling the responsibilities of launching a great product (oh, and still working full time: caffeine and adrenaline are my friends.) We didn’t win the Battlefield, but we did come back from San Francisco driven more than ever to bring Braket to teachers. We’re very proud to say Braket will be live in the Mac App Store by the end of November, just one year since our win at Startup Weekend.
I can say without a doubt we would not be where we are today without Startup Weekend.