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Allison Baum

Allison Baum Headshot

One-line bio: I am an Asia-based early stage investor, entrepreneur, and connector.

Find me in…Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bay Area, or on an airplane.

Find me on…

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Day Job
Managing Director at Fresco Capital, a global early stage venture fund

One-liner, describing your work
We support exceptional entrepreneurs to build remarkable businesses.

What do you like to do for fun?
Watch and talk about films, hiking, yoga, writing, and travel.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs?
I was familiar with Startup Weekend, but as I started to work more with our edtech portfolio companies (we have ten), I read about Education Entrepreneurs and immediately knew we had to bring them to Hong Kong.

Allison Baum SW EDU HK

What’s been your involvement in Education Entrepreneurs to date?
I’ve mentored and judged at previous Startup Weekends, I taught a Workshop on Business Models in Education, and most recently organized the first ever Startup Weekend Education in Hong Kong.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer?
Being a General and Foot Soldier at the same time — you have to think big and enroll various community stakeholders in the community’s vision, in order to make the event a success, but nothing will get done unless you’re also ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty to make it happen!

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer?
Seeing the transformation of the individuals and teams from Friday night to Sunday night.  The first evening, everyone is cautious and tentative. They have ideas but aren’t sure what to do with them.  By Sunday evening, the teams exude a contagious sense of confidence having actually created a solution that didn’t previously exist.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to those trying to build community?
Really figure out why people are interested in engaging with the community and what they hope to accomplish through their participation.  Everyone has different goals – asking them to share their respective visions of what is possible and encouraging people to work together to make them a reality is a really powerful thing.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to people trying to create edtech products?
There’s over a million ways in which technology can improve education – it’s an incredibly complex and inefficient sector.  However, if you’re going to build a business, make sure there is a short-term incentive or catalyst for adoption of your product.  Unless you help your customers achieve success according to their immediate metrics for success, you’re simply non-essential.

Allison Baum in SW HK EDU

What’s the legacy you’d like to leave in the education space?
Strong relationships with both our investors and the entrepreneurs we invest in.  As a venture investor, our returns are very important, but good relationships pay dividends over time.

What’s your favorite edtech company or innovative school, and why?
We have ten edtech portfolio companies right now, I can’t possibly pick a favorite!  Check them all out here: http://frescocapital.com/our-companies/

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would ____
not only enable individuals to learn at their own pace and in their own way, but also empower them to build their own dynamic roadmap according to their unique strengths and passions.

What are the resources or events that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?
Read as much as you can to understand what is happening in the space and start engaging with members of the community outside of your immediate geography. Set up Google alerts for “ed tech”, check out Edsurge, participate in an Education Entrepreneurs meet up in another city!


More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.


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Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Mandela Schumacher-Hodge
(@MandelaSH) A former public school teacher, education policy researcher, and PhD candidate, Mandela Schumacher-Hodge co-founded Tioki, the “The LinkedIn for Educators,” in 2011. Funded by Kapor Capital, 500 Startups, and Imagine K12