Boston Startup Weekend Education kicked off Friday night with 30 ideas for education innovation from attendees. After a round of 1 minutes pitches, organizers tabulated participant peer votes, leaving 9 ideas to advance to seek to form teams. These pitchers were then left to flesh out their ideas and attempt to recruit sufficient teams to actually build these out over the weekend!
Here were our top ideas advancing to team formation:
- Achieve Financial Freedom Together: pitched by Nancy out of her own experience seeking to learn to save and invest having come to the US from China but addressing universal issues of financial literacy by building a freemium financial education platform for Millennials, who despite strong average incomes have below average savings levels.
- EDscursion: pitched out of an educator’s real life experience managing field trips for a rural classroom, this online platform would simplify and plan student learning excursions.
- FeedLoop: pitched by Jeff, an educator turned developer seeking to build a student peer feedback platform for the classroom that adapts models employed by developers to write code.
- “Google Analytics for EDU”: Pitched by Parviz who out of his decade of experience serving on the board of a local school, sees the need to build a platform that truly tracks learning effectiveness (sentiment analysis, sensor networks, machine learning)
- Mindful Testing VR: pitched by John,a first year MBA at MIT, with 5 years of development experience at Microsoft, to address test taking anxiety. With 16-20% of students experiencing debilitating test taking anxiety levels, this platform will replace paper based testing with a VR environment for off-site test taking.
- Quick Deck: pitched by Al, a medical adaptive test prep entrepreneur to create a simple, automated flashcard generator utilizing a Chrome extension for users to highlight given website content which will automatically link to a content library and auto-populate a digital flashcard template.
- Reskill Me: pitched by Neel, a venture capitalist originally from London, as a skills training platform targeted those threatened to be left behind by Globalization in a post-Brexit world.
- Super Moms: pitched by Alex (another Brit!) online career platform for reintegrating recent maternity / paternity leave parents into the workforce.
- Teacher Licensure Tracker: pitched by Cara, a teacher turned UX designer, this is an administration platform for storing and tracking teacher certifications and licenses.
On November 10th, Startup Weekend Education returns to Boston for the first time since 2014 with a great group of judges, mentors and organizers from the education and start-up worlds set to support you and your ideas to help drive innovation in education!
Backed by Techstars, the worldwide entrepreneur network, and hosted at Pearson Education’s Copley Square offices, StartupWeekend Education (“SWEDU”) creates a space and resources to bring new ideas, technology and entrepreneurs to make a difference across the Boston (and global!) education community.
No better example exists LeanGap, one of the winning teams from the past 2014 Boston SWEDU. Pitched by by a high-school student as an idea for a start-up accelerator for other high schoolers, LeanGap is still going strong today, having just finished their third summer (read more here on BetaBoston)!
You will also benefit from having a local organizing team who have led nearly a dozen SWEDUs between them, including Vicky Guo of Pearson, a co-organizer of the 2014 Boston SWEDU, Hannah Nyren of the EdTech Times (@edtechtimes), who was on one of the winning teams at 2014 Boston SWEDU, and Christopher Nyren (@cnyren) founder of Educated Ventures.
The winning team will secure additional support, including free invitations to some of the leading education startup conferences and festivals across the country including LearnLaunch, NY EdTech Week, and more to be announced!
Lets see what you can do in 54 hours with all their support, three meals a day, and a fun, collaborative working environment! Learn more and register under the early bird pricing (ending this Thursday!) at bit.ly/bosswedu!
Last Thursday April 2 Startup Next Boston Managing Director Mike Grandinetti talked about Human Centric Design at Makerbot Boston.
The event was a huge success and In case you could’t attend you can watch the entire presentation here.
On Thursday, February 26, a well-attended and high-energy event was held on Hult’s Boston campus to celebrate and explore student entrepreneurship in the greater Boston/ Cambridge area. This region has historically been a hotbed for student entrepreneurship, pioneered by MIT.
Many famous student startups were born in the Boston community before achieving iconic status, including Facebook and Microsoft as well as ZipCar, Akamai and Napster. More recently, student –founded startups such as Rent The Runway, Uncharted Play and Plated have vaulted to prominence.
The event was organized and facilitated by Hult Global Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Mike Grandinetti, in his role as Faculty Advisor to both the Hult Startup Platform and Hult Science in Business Student Clubs. As a serial entrepreneur, mentor, angel investor and educator in the Boston area for over 20 years, and currently Managing Director of StartupNext Boston and a Community Impact Fellow with OpenIDEO, Professor Mike tapped into his network to bring in a range of experiences for Hult’s students to benefit from. After starting things off, Professor Mike facilitated a fireside chat with each speaker and then guided a question and answer session with a very engaged audience of students from both Hult and other area universities.
Professor Mike kicked off the event in Hult’s aptly named Fenway Bleachers auditorium, with its great view of the Zakim Bridge. He started by testing students knowledge of well know Boston student – founded startups as well as student familiarity with recent Kickstarter project. He then provided an overview of the current state of student entrepreneurship on a global basis, including enabling factors such as the consumerization of IT, short-term coding academies, affordable subscription cloud-based apps, pre-accelerators, university accelerators and seed capital funds, student entrepreneurship – focused VC funds and crowd-funding.
The event also included two student entrepreneurship–focused venture capitalists, one from the DormRoom Fund, Bruno Faviero, Managing Director, who focuses on managing investments for the 12 major research universities in the Boston area; and Kate Murdock, who focuses specifically on funding Northeastern University bred start-ups. In addition, Kate serves as an analyst at Northeastern’s IDEA accelerator, where over 200 startups have been launched and incubated, including a few that were recently VC funded. Bruno is the Founder of Hacking MIT and other MIT – related startup events. Bruno and Kate discussed the extraordinary range of startups being launched around the greater Boston area by students, with a focus on the 23 companies that DormRoom Fund has invested in directly.
Michael Gaiss, former SVP of Highland Capital Partners and current founder and CEO of BigThink!, which focuses on connecting students interested in entrepreneurial careers with startups, spoke about the stark difference in hiring requirements between large corporation and startups. Unlike corporates, startups focus less on GPA and more on hands-on experience that indicates a passion by the student for the role and the market space. He also discussed his observations as Entrepreneur in Residence at UMass Boston, where the school recently expanded its Venture Development Center.
For the benefit of the Science in Business Club, Professor Vinit Nijiwhan, who runs Boston University’s Office of Technology Development, spoke of the challenges and successes of commercializing university based research. During his tenure, he changed BU’s model from licensing to startups, with great success. With this new startup-driven approach, BU has achieved more success in commercializing its science and technology in the past five years than in the previous 30 years.
At the conclusion of the event, Professor Mike, Bruno and Kate served as mentors for a pitch session. Many Hult students stepped up to pitch their ideas to a crowded room of 100 plus attendees where they received constructive feedback. Many also used the opportunity to get real-time input from their fellow students on the desirability of their ideas.
In summary, the event was exceptionally well received by the engaged students who asked many great questions, volunteered to pitch, and engaged in direct discussions with speakers during the networking breaks scheduled through-out the evening. It’s clear that student entrepreneurship is thriving in Boston.
In order to grow, all industries must undergo significant disruption—the business world’s equivalent of a wake-up call. Business professor Clayton Christensen first used the term ‘disruptive innovation’ back in 1995, to describe the process by which a product or service starts out in its simplest form at the bottom of the market, before moving up to eventually displace established competitors.
Creative disruption: it’s unavoidable
The waves of creative disruption – technological or digital – have caused the acceleration of change across industries. For example, 3D printing has revolutionized the manufacturing and healthcare industries, and companies such as Netflix have changed the way we consume ondemand media. Leading disruptive innovators recognize the need to move away from the beaten path of success and security, in order to connect with the engaged and empowered consumer: Apple’s takeover of the mobile phone industry, after starting out with computers, and Google’s expansion into ads, causing advertising giants to sit up and take note, are just some examples of the direction innovation has taken over the last decade alone.
How to become a leading innovator: collaboration and continual reinvention
As creative disruption continues to blur the lines between industries, and organizational leaders come to realize that they cannot continue business as usual – a concept referred to as the Innovator’s Dilemma – innovation is affecting the way many organizations operate. The life expectancy of companies has been compressed by 80% since the 1920s, and by 2021, 40% of Fortune 500 companies will simply have disappeared.
The threat of death at the hands of tradition and custom is pushing companies to collaborate in order to stay relevant, and forcing the CEOs of leading companies to ask: do we have innovation in our bones? After selling off its low-end server business to Lenovo, tech giant IBM entered into a partnership with Apple, distributing iPads offering industry-specific enterprise mobile solutions—a smart move by IBM to exploit the power of one of the world’s most powerful brands.
Another method of innovation being employed by companies is one of continual reinvention, explained by the Three Horizons model:
Horizon one: extend and defend products
Horizon two: drive emerging products
Horizon three: create new, viable opportunities
The unwillingness to let go of the old and look beyond past and current successes is something Bill Gates summed up perfectly, when he said, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” Past success doesn’t guarantee it in the future, so we all have to be lifelong learners, beginning with the CEO.
Be brave, innovate
When it comes to innovation, courage yields the best results—and the pay-offs have been huge. Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble’s open innovation initiative, Connect + Develop, reaches out to external talent in order to innovate and improve. The lean start-up approach adopted by General Electric allows the company to act like a start-up, by “unlearning perfection” in order to manage new product development—effectively disrupting the market with faster, smarter decisions. Digital innovation is another area Nike has influenced for some time now. Collaborating with Apple to create the Nike+ Fuelband allowed Nike to merge fitness with smart mobile technology—a bold move in uncertain times, and something competitor Adidas has been slow to adopt.
“The unwillingness to let go of the old and look beyond past and current successes is something Bill Gates summed up perfectly, when he said:
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
Past success doesn’t guarantee it in the future, so we all have to be lifelong learners, beginning with the CEO.”
About the author:
Mike Grandinetti Professor of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Management, and Marketing MBA, Yale School of Management
Professor Grandinetti is an award-winning faculty member, having received four Global Teaching Excellence Awards from Hult and been named Professor of the Week by the Financial Times in 2013. He is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience working with global start-ups and venture capitalist firms.
Mike Grandinetti knows a thing or two about innovation and technology. He’s juggled multiple careers and positions over the years, including entrepreneur, educator, public speaker, mentor, consultant, and board member. For over 30 years he’s worked with the likes of Startup NEXT Boston, Hult International Business School, Open IDEO, and more. Needless to say, he’s the perfect candidate for the next MakerBot Innovator Session on Thursday, April 2nd at 7 pm
Human Centric Design
Mike will be at the MakerBot Retail Store in Boston, MA to present at MakerBot Innovator Sessions, a gathering of 3D printing enthusiasts doing something different in the world of tech, education, and more. Mike will focus on Human-Centric Design enabled by 3D printing, specifically skills essential to managing innovation initiatives for developing new products. He’ll discuss how rapid prototyping with 3D printing is a major step for the field of Human-Centric Design. It’s a great opportunity to meet a well-respected and internationally known start-up and tech speaker.
Register today for the event in Boston on Thursday April 2nd at 7 pm.
William J. (Bill) Warner is the founder of Avid Technology, Inc. and Wildfire Communications, Inc., FutureBoston, Inc, and Warner Research, LLC. He won an Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1993 for the development of the Avid Media Composer. In 1999 , the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Avid with the Oscar® for its success in transforming the editing process in filmmaking.
In 2002, Warner started a shared-space center for entrepreneurs called the Collaboration Space at Warner Research.This center is now called the Brickyard Collaboration Space and provides low-cost space to early stage entrepreneurs.
In addition, Mr. Warner has acted as an angel investor for eight startups, and for three non-profits. The startups are in such diverse areas as 3D animation, email-based blogging, event networking, ad insertion for online videos, visual environments for nightclubs, shared calendars, and compensation design and management. Bill is also working on book about entrepreneurship called “Intention and Invention.” It explores how to optimize the connection between what drives an entrepreneur, and how they go about making inventions that spring from that drive.
Meredith Sandiford is the Executive Director of The Capital Network – Boston’s leading non-profit organization providing extensive educational programs and a community to help early-stage entrepreneurs master the entire funding process and successfully raise seed capital for financing their high-growth startup.
For entrepreneurs seeking between $50K and $4M in seed, angel or venture capital investment, TCN provides the most comprehensive set of early-stage financing education, networking and resources available. Through its program and events, the organization provides entrepreneurs the tools and guidance needed to build a fundable business, including advice from leading experts in the field of early-stage financing. These events also provide investors the opportunity to see some of the area’s hottest startups up close and gain exposure to exciting new technologies and businesses.
Asad Butt is the Director of Operations at LearnLaunch Accelerator (formerly LearnLaunchX) which is greater Boston’s leading edtech startup accelerator. After a highly selective application process, LearnLaunch accelerator provides the most promising edtech startups worldwide with seed funding, an unmatched team of mentors, intensive coaching and all the tools needed to grow a successful edtech startup.
LearnLaunch is dedicated to connecting, supporting, and growing greater Boston’s education technology ecosystem to drive innovation and transform learning. It offers a vibrant community, educational events, a collaborative co-working space, and a selective accelerator program to promote the growth of the education technology sector in greater Boston, a world education hub.