UP Montreal: Learn How To Launch and Scale Your EdTech Venture

EDU, EdTech, Startup Weekend Education, Montreal, Canada
EDU, EdTech, Startup Weekend Education, Montreal, Canada

Education Entrepreneurs Workshops launched during the summer of 2014 and have already spread to three continents: North America, Europe, and Asia. In Canada, fellow UP Montreal community leaders Noor El Bawab, Diana Cheptene, Marek Zaluski, Charles Gedeon and Mirjam Sulger organized the first one in the Province of Quebec.

To know more about the EdTech community in Montreal, join them in Linkedin or Facebook.

Workshops help you teach key education entrepreneurship skills to your community. We provide you with all the materials, so you’re well equipped to create a valuable experience. You can either host a workshop 1-3 weeks before a Startup Weekend Education event, or as a stand-alone event any time during the year.

Education Entrepreneurs – Workshop – Montreal – Canada – McGill University – Summer 2014

If you are passionate about education innovation, learn the foundational skills you need to launch and scale an edtech venture at a workshop near you

Education Entrepreneurs Workshops are two hours of engaging instruction, quality guest speakers, and hands-on activities designed for an audience of about 50 people. The two Workshop topics we offer so far are:

  1. Edtech Business Models, and
  2. Customer Development and Empathy in Education.

If you’d like to bring an Education Entrepreneurs Workshop to Montrealapply here!

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If you’d like to organize a Startup Weekend Education edition in Montreal, apply here!

Startup Weekend Education gives you the unique opportunity to show people in your community how to launch a startup in just one weekend. Coming together on Friday night to pitch ideas, participants from a variety of fields (e.g. educators, students, developers, designers) quickly form teams and spend the next 54 hours working together to build innovative solutions to important education problems. 








Touch-Based Virtual Reality For The Blind Developed At Startup Weekend Education Hyderabad

Original post can be found on Imgur. Written by user SathvikP.

We built a wearable device that can help people sense a virtual object (like a square, a map of the world, a cube or an entire solar system), through a small vibrating motor on their hand by moving their hand around in the air. This would be particularly helpful for the blind and the visually impaired as it can help them better visualize shapes, learn geography and access images like they never could before. And I’m very proud to tell you that our team at Color Me Black won Startup Weekend Education Hyderabad!

Congratulations to the rest of the team! And many thanks to all our avid supporters and friends. Also a very special thanks to Faisal from Dialogue In the Dark – India for sparing his valuable time. He helped us fine tune the idea to better help students and showed us how technology has been helping the visually impaired. Stay tuned, you’ll be hearing more about this soon! #MakeInIndia #Wearables #InternetOfThings #VirtualReality #Haptics

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The prototype is a glove that people can wear. When they move their hand around, an arduino onboard detects the movement and turns on a small vibrator-motor on the glove. If we have the computer simulate the shape of a square, the glove-wearer would feel a vibration on their hand as they move it along it’s imagined boundaries, allowing them to get a sense of it’s shape.

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Blind students and blind people in general have a tough time visualizing, understanding and using images. With the help of this smart-glove, we can give them a sense of what things in the image might be shaped like, enabling them to better use that information.

Learn more about our startup, Colour Me Black and how we will continue to innovate for the blind!








Breadth and Depth in Startup Metrics

This post is written by Elliott Hauser – CEO of Trinket, an in-browser coding environment for teachers and students. Before Trinket, Elliot taught programming at UNC Chapel Hill.  

tl;dr: Breadth = % of users using, while Depth = key usage per user

Geoff Ralston recently wrote a post on his brilliant (b * d) / c formula for prioritizing product development features. You should definitely read his post if you haven’t. I call it Ralston’s Unified Theorem of Product Development.

Basically, the formula takes how many users will benefit from a feature (breadth, aka b) multiplied by how much it will improve their experience (depth, aka d) divided by how long it will take to build (cost, aka c). This formula is awesome and Geoff has used it in more than once in the Imagine K12 office hours our team at Trinket has had with him.

As he notes in his post, though, the key to success with this formula is picking the right metric to use with it. Are there any more specific guidelines we can use to pick these metrics? I think so.

Metrics are People too

Eric Ries’ famous line “metrics are people too” reminds us that product metrics should always relate back to users’ experience. There are two main ways to do this:

  • look at the ratio of users that do something, such as a conversion or utilization rate (i.e. users using / total users)
  • look at the degree of usage, usually though events per user or time on site per user

The former is perfectly suited to breadth measurement, while the latter is perfect to depth. Geoff is right that there’s a lot of going by your gut in early stage startups. But Ries forces us to make our assumptions and hypotheses explicit so that we can verify their truth. If you combine Ries’ explicit hypotheses with Geoff’s formula you have a perfect setup for validating your hunches while moving quickly and trusting your gut.

Breadth Measurement by Usage Rates

Anyone who’s built a product from scratch has run into a situation where they’ve built a feature or set of features expecting it to take off with a majority of users, only to find out it was in fact used by very few.

At Trinket this was the case with our HTML trinket. My hypothesis was that HTML was used in much more widely in classes around the world than Python is, so the new feature would soon dwarf our Python usage. Hypothesis: after a few weeks, the utilization rate of the HTML trinket would be greater than the Python trinket.

Well, I was very wrong about this. Python continues to be our most popular language and is outgrowing all other trinket types. The utilization rates told this tale easily and we haven’t seen any difference in depth of usage, which means that improvements to our Python trinket should outrank work on HTML. THis focus has helped us deliver new features most of our users will use.

A nice feature of breadth measurement, by the way, is the ease of setup. You don’t need a full-on split test to gauge usage as long as the feature is presented side by side with an alternative, as is the case in our New Trinket dialog.

With the clarity of this new data, I realized that one of the problems we solve, quick and easy setup, was not experienced strongly by HTML teachers. So they were not searching for a solution as actively as Python teachers. Using Geoff’s formula, we realized that the breadth of the feature was not as great as we had predicted, so we decided to focus on improving our support for Python.

Measuring Depth with Events or Time

Depth is how much a feature matters to users. We can measure it by, roughly, usage per user. In most cases this boils down to how often they use it and by how the presence of the feature affects their time on site.

Measuring depth of engagement is more difficult than breadth because it most often requires a split test setup (aka A/B test). If you’re not set up to do split tests via feature flags, custom flows, or a service like Optimizely you should drop everything and get set up to do so. Without the ability to split test it’s almost impossible to produce the validated learning that startups live and die by.

Google Analytics events are a surprisingly robust and easy tool for this kind of measurement. At trinket we use them to understand how many times users run code, edit code, and interact with the code’s output (i.e. play with games). Each new feature ships with its own analytics event so we can track how many times users are using it.

Some features are important to users but happen rarely, like accepting comments from other users on a blog post (one of the many reasons I love Medium). In these cases, the real value to the user may need to be measured by how the presence of the feature affects the users’ time on site or number of sessions overall. To do this reliably, a split test is likely needed.

Picking one metric for (b * d) / c

So far we’ve talked about characteristics of metrics you should use for b and d. Geoff’s formula is designed to optimize one particular metric over time. So which one metric should you pick?

is just a measure of how many people use a feature, and doesn’t have units attached to it. That means that d is your key metric. Your choice of interactions, signups, sessions per user or time on site per user will be the key determinant of how the formula ‘grades’ your product development options. Your product will go through phases when different metrics assume different levels of importance. Just make sure to pick a metric consciously and stick with it long enough to move the needle. Shifting your target metric will shift your priorities entirely.

Hope this has been helpful! Tweet at me with suggestions or comments!








Why The School of Games?

This article was written by Arjita Sethi – educator, social entrepreneur & the Founder of The School of Games.

This is the story of change, the story of revolution and the story of ‘The School of Games.Org’. This has been a journey of pivoting, applying lean startup methodology and being told over and over again that your baby is very ugly. However, in the whole process the only thing that remained same was our passion to create a disruptive innovation which would make quality education accessible to one and all and thus create equal opportunities. We have in the course of our journey met numerous mentors and team members who helped at every step, they believed in ‘The School of Games’ and the vision of giving quality education to every child in the world.

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It all started on June 14th 2014, when we decided to help out poor kids in India to learn English through an online platform of games. English, a language of elites in India is the key in anyone’s success. Thus, we decided to convert the entire curriculum of English subject of high school into a game and give it free of cost to all bottom of the pyramid students in India. Games create an engaging environment which is both stimulating and fundamental for learning. This has been tried by many organizations before but never for a bottom of the pyramid. I started working on building the lesson plans that very day. After 15 days of careful planning, I began recording my lessons to be put on our online platform. This platform would be called ‘The school of English.Org’ , named after my parent’s school in India. After a month of recording the lesson plans here in San Francisco I planned to travel to India to test if these lessons were giving out the necessary outcomes.

This was our method of lean startup. We had nothing except a white board, few markers, a go-pro and a passion to make education fun and available to everyone. Within 15 days of landing in India and trying human centric design, I realized that I had validated my idea and my early adopters were more than looking forward to the MVP of ‘The School of English.Org’. I went out and tested my prototype on 50 children at ‘The School of English’ in New Delhi. I recorded their interviews to understand how they felt with this methodology of teaching. The children learnt quickly. They said that the best part was that they did not need to go to a good school since a good school came to them. However, I realized that the key takeaway from this pilot testing was that these children did not just have problems with English, but every other subject. This made me realize that just teaching them English would not solve the problem. In fact, many of these kids werelacking in basic literacy.

This was the time of our first pivot. The school of English had to be transformed into The School of Games which meant that we had to bring the entire school in the form of a game to these kids. Because now it was not just the question of teaching English language, rather providing a platform which ensured the holistic learning of every child in a fun way. As we began working on this, other insights were brought to our notice. Firstly, that many of these children dropped out in primary or middle school because either they had to be helping in the household chores or they failed after 9th grade.

We realized that if we had to make a greater impact in the lives of these children, we had to catch them young. Thus the idea of initiating the early childhood education came into being. And this could well be called our second pivot from teaching high school students to kindergarten children.

Now that we had The School Of Games and I had validated theory of change, I came back to San Francisco after 2 months and began my work with the new tested hypotheses.

As we were in the nascent stages of building this, I was also pursuing my master’s of social entrepreneurship from Hult International Business School. This was the time when I was given the opportunity of studying social innovation, which was being taught by prof- Mike Grandinetti. Prof. Mike was the first of my teachers with whom I discussed my idea. He listened to my idea very intently and made me think that although I had the quality content, however the children at the bottom of the pyramid would have no device to see it on. This went on to become my third pivot, especially in the cost structure of my business model. Till now, I was relying The School of Games to be a freemium model and thus the cost structure was much simpler. But now I had to work out the cost for a device too.

This was the time when I read numerous articles on how the US is facing the acute problem of word gap amongst the low-income families. Subsequently, I discovered that not only a developing country like India but also US was suffering when it came to giving quality education. This brought in another change in my business model with The School of Games becoming a global product for any child in the world and starting our pilot here in San Francisco itself. I still can’t thank Prof. Mike enough for his insights and relentless support even today. Moreover, the role of Hult in giving us this exposure of building a startup from the scratch is very enriching.

Around this time came the opportunity of registering for the startup weekend of Hult prize in October 2014. I was thrilled to know about this opportunity. We presented our idea and won the startup weekend. This was a great boost for us to realize that we were after all doing something right. We are utterly grateful to Prof. Patrick Guerra, who was one of the judges to give us highly insightful feedback. He brought out the lack of technology and Internet availability in many rural areas. Consequently, we created our first MVP for early childhood education and began looking for schools to try in out in, especially rural schools. Finally I spoke to my school friend Varshawho is a Gandhian Fellow in India and was teaching in a rural school in Rajasthan in India. My concern about lack of internet were put to rest when she told me that she used 3G to run the MVP in the remote rural school of Rajasthan. This was another milestone for TSOG as the feedback of these children was priceless and our learnings were numerous.

We represented TSOG in the internal competition of Hult prize. Although we were not lucky this time to win but we did receive constructive feedback from none other than David Stephens of Grameen Foundation. Moreover, we added an amazing team member, Yany Wu Feng to the family of TSOG. Further, we had the chance to connect with Mike Zyda, whose experience in the field of games and his faith in us has kept us motivated and his advice has been remarkably helpful.

Today, The School of Games currently in the prototype stage is a personalized school for every child around the world especially children at the bottom of the pyramid who don’t receive quality education. Behind the scenes The School of Games is an ecosystem of educators, animators, game designers who build games based on curated curriculum to achieve learning outcomes. The School of Games leverages key insights to provide personalized learning experience by adapting to each child’s learning ability.

This is a call for everyone to just give us an hour a week and help a child get quality education. Lastly, being a non profit we are looking for impact investors and philanthropists to invest in our mission so that together we can bring a school to every child.

Because education needs to be shared not sold!








Learnings From Startup Weekend Education In Bangalore

In August, Adithya Narayanan (TFI 2012) and Arhan Bezbora (TFI 2010) made a trip down to Bangalore to participate in Startup Weekend Education, along with 7 other Alumni based in the city. Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.

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In this reflection piece, Adithya describes his main learnings from the 3 days that came about from watching one of his team-mates, Gururaja at work. To learn more about the event and see the participants (including Alumni) in action, watch this video.

I watched as Gururaja stood quietly at the back of the long line that had assembled on one side of the conference room at the Thoughtworks office in Bangalore, holding the prototype he had built in his hand. Twenty-five other people stood in the line with him, waiting to present to a crowd of 70 that included educators, technicians, designers and social entrepreneurs from different parts of the country. The model that could fit perfectly in his palm accurately measured humidity, acceleration, and temperature among other elements – requiring only a connection to a smartphone to function. Gururaja had built the prototype while pursuing his PhD in Bangalore and knew that this model could be very useful to engineering students across the country since most of them pursued different engineering projects during their last year in college and a gadget that gives immediate and accurate data at a cheap rate would be a great asset to them.

Gururaja had spent months working on this model, but today like everyone else standing in the line, he had exactly one minute to pitch this product to the audience to gain their votes. If the pitch went well, members of the audience would join his team and over the next 54 hours help him turn this model into a viable product that he could potentially sell in the market.

When it was finally Gururaja’s turn, he fumbled and stuttered through his presentation and thoroughly failed to explain the workings of his prototype. By the time the one-minute alarm rung, Gururaja had only finished half of his pitch, and predictably when the results were announced, Gururaja’s model didn’t make it through to the top ten. As I watched him slowly put his model back in his backpack, I felt sympathetic but, limited by my own knowledge of business and engineering, I realized I couldn’t do much to help him.

Over the next 54 hours, I would work closely with a team of 5 (including three Alumni) to build a website that aimed to help students in India studying in the 10th and 12th grade gain more clarity regarding career opportunities post their board exams. The website would house a career aptitude test, a mentorship program and an internship program – a holistic process that we hoped would help children in India gain more clarity about the careers that lay ahead.

Over the next 2 days, I learned a lot while working on the idea  – I learned about revenue streams and measuring key metrics, I learned about the lean business model and about how to use it, I explored design thinking at a deeper level, helped my team create a strong problem statement and then helped my team go out and validate that statement. We brainstormed solutions together, talked to seasoned social entrepreneurs, worked with them to define our target audience, and the weekend finally culminated in our team being selected as one of the runners-up at this first edition of the event in Bangalore.

But none of those learnings, I realize now in retrospect, would come close to my learnings from watching Gururaja work over the weekend. After the audience in the room rejected his prototype, Gururaja didn’t leave the room to go back home. He stayed back to help other teams build on their ideas, and as luck would have it, he ended up joining our team. Before Gururaja joined, we had 3 educators, one social entrepreneur and one visual communicator, and we were looking for a software techie who could code – for the simple reason that our entire product was to be housed on a website. So when our team-leader Saahil went scouting for a techie and finally told us that he had found one we were thrilled, but the joy was short lived for Saahil had misunderstood Gururaja to be a software techie, while Gururaja was actually ahardware techie – so he had as much idea about how to build a website as all of us. Surprising me twice in the span of five minutes, Gururaja offered to spend the next day working on the website.

Over the next 15 hours while the rest of us defined and redefined out problem statement and went about creating a solution process, Gururaja sat with his laptop in a corner of the conference room, with multiple tabs open that had information on building websites. He browsed through wordpress and godaddy and finally ended up on wix, where he decided to build a website that would suit our product the best. For the first few hours, he got nowhere, but a few hours later; this is what he came up with. It was a full-fledged working front page for our website.

 

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As I think back to the weekend, the image of Gururaja standing in the line with his prototype flashes in my mind. I think of the time when the results were announced and his idea didn’t get voted upon and I think of the time when I saw him put the prototype in his bag, expecting him to leave. I think of the time when he offered to help us do something no one else was willing to touch, and I think of the time when he finally showed us what he had built and that is when I realize that beyond business models and processes and structures and designs, what I learnt that weekend was that to really get your startup off the ground you need a great team, with great team-players.

To watch Gururaja work over the weekend was my greatest learning. Here’s to bigger hearts, leaner business models and more Startup Weekends.

Adithya was a 2012 Teach For India Fellow in Mumbai. He currently works as a Strategy and Alumni Manager with the Teach For India Mumbai team, building greater clarity around our long-term theory of change in the city and laying the foundation for Fellows and Alumni to engage with the vision and the Alumni movement. You can reach out to him at adithya.narayanan@teachforindia.org.








Inaugural Oakland Startup Weekend EDU

Oakland

On February 21, Oakland will kick off its first-ever Startup Weekend EDU, bringing together Bay Area entrepreneurs, designers, developers, and educators. In just 54 hours, teams will take innovative ideas from concept to launch.

What makes it an EDU event? All teams are working on ideas that have been “educator-approved”!

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) will host participants at its Cole Middle School location. Originally a school, Cole now houses OUSD’s Technology Services group. Information Technology Officer John Krull and Venture Capitalist Mitch Kapor, among others, will serve as a judges and provide feedback to competing teams at the end of the weekend. Edtech entrepreneur and former CTO of OUSD Gee Kin Chou, as well as seasoned developers, product design experts, and investors, will be on hand to mentor teams during the weekend.

Cole Middle School Classroom

One special prize will reward a solution most likely to change the face of Oakland education. Oakland Startup Weekend EDU is made possible through support from the Kapor Center for Social Impact, NewSchools Venture Fund, and the Rogers Family Foundation.