10 Reasons Why I Had The Time of My Life at Startup Weekend Valencia College Education

During the weekend of April 17th, 2015, I had the honor of being the facilitator for Startup Weekend Valencia College Education, the first ever event that focused exclusively on college-specific educational issues. The event coincided with Orlando Tech Week as well, and I’m blown away by momentum that’s building in their entrepreneurial community.

Below are some of the highlights of my time in O-Town. (Don’t call it that.)

1. Met Gregg Pollack, the founder of Code School

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Total fanboy moment – I’ve watched this guy in countless lessons while in my pajamas. Turns out he’s from my hometown as well and went to high school with my older sister. 20 years later, his online learning site sold for $36 million.

2. Rolled up to the event in a classy ride

One of the organizers insisted on driving me to Valencia College in her BMW convertible with the top down. We drove through the express lanes of Central Florida blasting Maroon 5’s “Sugar” for self-evident reasons.

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3. Orlando folk danced like nobody’s watching

Even before the party got started, the organizers and mentors had a rhythm they couldn’t shake.

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4. …Or danced like everybody’s watching

I’ve been planning this one for weeks: a re-creation of that awesome “walking” scene in the Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” music video:

valencia-otownfunk

5. Collected that multi-colored t-shirt swag

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Usually I collect a t-shirt after every event I volunteer at, but #SWValencia decided to give me FOUR different colors: green, blue, red, and gray. My wardrobe is now complete.

6. Hung out with high-energy future entrepreneurs

I generally love it when kids show up to Startup Weekend. They’re full of enthusiasm and don’t cease to think of ways to make the event even more fun.

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The lead organizer‘s son came up with a dance move that looks as if he’s about to chop me in the head. Fortunately, neither of us were injured in the making of this GIF.

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7. Non-stop 3D Printing for everyone

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With the support of local organization DeltaMaker, #SWValencia had two printing machines operating throughout the event. The trinkets made were amazing.

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At first I was going to steal this Oscar replica to taunt fellow community leader and NYC living legend Andrew Young, but his response was “how cute.”

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But it turns out they made one just for me! “That’ll do, Lee, that’ll do.”

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8. Did I forget to mention how much dancing went on?

That’s right – even faculty and administration came out to participate at #SWValencia, with some of them taking the top prize. Pretty sure there will be some follow-up traction after this event.

9. Hugged as long and often as I could

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During a break, I had some people watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk on why it’s important to establish physical contact in order to build trust, lower stress levels, and increase cooperation among groups.

(Un)lucky for Valencia, I’m a pretty big fan of hugs. I’ve even removed the detached “bro-hug” from my repertoire because, well, “no half measures,” amirite?

10. Whenever possible, I acted (innocuously) insane.

I’ll leave you with this last image of me that pretty much encapsulates my take on Startup Weekend.

valencia-whirlwind

Thanks for reading my post! Much thanks to organizers Josh Murdock, Jenny Charriez, and Lisa Macon for having me! My next facilitation will be in Tampa Bay for their Youth Edition event in May. If you’re close by (or even if you’re not), you should come out.

I promise to make it the time of your life.

Lee Ngo is an UP Global Community Leader currently based in Pittsburgh, PA. 








Education Entrepreneurs Community Leader Spotlight: Allison Baum

 

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…

Favorite Twitter Hashtags

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.

 








5 Things You Can Do at Startup Weekend Education That You Can’t Do Anywhere Else

 

1. Meet people who are like you

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Are you fed up with current education offerings? Do you think there are better ways to teach and learn? If you answered yes, then you are going to feel very much at home at Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU). Over the span of just one weekend (Friday night through Sunday night), you’ll meet up to 120 other people who also believe there’s a better way to do education. And like you, these people aren’t just interested in sitting around in a circle venting about the problems; they’re go-getters too, who are ready to dive in and take action to actually devise solutions.

 

2. Meet people who are not like you

DPA via Press Association Images Apple Computer was founded in 1976 by ​​Steve Jobs (left), Steve Wozniak (right) and Ronald Wayne (not pictured) in the garage of Jobs' parents. (Archive photo from 1976). Steve Jobs died on Wednesday at the age of 56, after a long and highly public battle with cancer.
DPA via Press Association Images

It’s great that you’ve found “your people,” but that’s only just the beginning. It’s imperative that amongst these people, you find those who possess different skillsets than you. The fact of the matter is, you’re not going to build a successful edtech company with developers alone. Developers must be paired with educators, designers, business people, and other important stakeholders, in order to create the best possible solution. Just think, if you’re Steve Jobs, SWEDU is where you may be able to find your Steve Wozniak.

 

3. Learn from people who’ve already done it

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How many edtech companies have come and gone? I don’t have the exact number, but ask anyone in a school system who’s purchased edtech, or ask any investor who’s funded edtech, and they’ll likely tell you: it’s a lot. So how do we fix this problem? How do we create better companies that stand the test of time? Well, that’s a very complicated problem, but one thing that’s key is access to great mentorship. SWEDU pairs people with quality mentors from the very start of their entrepreneurial journey. Seasoned school leaders, edtech investors, edtech founders, etc. are on hand throughout the weekend to share their best practices, strategies, and “Do’s and Dont’s” of not just launching a venture, but developing a scalable and sustainable business model. Ultimately, the mentors help participants fail faster, hopefully avoid mistakes they’ve made, and even set them up to leapfrog the current solutions out there.

 

4. Turn an idea into a startup in 54 hours

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Buy a ticket, show up, listen to 3-5 panelists share their experiences and advice, try to get the moderator’s attention so that you can ask your question, mingle with a few other attendees, and go home. Sound familiar? Yup, I thought so. That’s the typical run-down of a meetup, conference, or summit, and this is currently what people are limited to if they want to engage with others who are interested in making a difference in education. (Don’t get me wrong: the Speaker(s): Audience format absolutely has its place in the learning, networking, and community building process, but this article is about SWEDU). At SWEDU we take a different approach that’s represented by our motto: No Talk, All Action. At our events, your success isn’t determined by how many notes you took, how many tweets you posted, or how many business cards you collected. Here, it’s all about what you actually built. The 54-hour timeframe gives you a bite-sized taste of what developing a startup looks and feels likes. At a SWEDU, learning by doing trumps learning by listening.

 

5. Fail faster

SHARK TANK - "Episode 502" - There's potential millions at stake when the Sharks recognize one irresistible product and a feeding frenzy ensues among all of them, including guest Shark Steve Tisch, co-owner of the New York Giants and film producer. Whose offer will win? This week's entrepreneurs include sisters from Normal, Illinois whose gourmet edible cookie dough is meant to be enjoyed unbaked; Los Angeles entrepreneurs who've created organic flavored milk that tastes like what's left in the bowl after you've eaten your favorite cereal; an IPhone app by a Georgia inventor that uses the phone's built-in hardware to make it spin hands-free for panoramic picture taking; and an interactive workout technology from an Austin, Texas entrepreneur who brings out Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza to demo his product. Plus, we follow up with the Morganville, NJ owner of Pro-NRG, a protein infused water endorsed by the NFL's Brandon Jacobs, in which Daymond John invested last season on "Shark Tank," FRIDAY, JANUARY 31 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Craig Sjodin) MARK CUBAN, DAYMOND JOHN, KEVIN O'LEARY, LORI GREINER, STEVE TISCH
MARK CUBAN, DAYMOND JOHN, KEVIN O’LEARY, LORI GREINER, STEVE TISCH

 

One of the worst things an entrepreneur can do is build something in isolation and not share it with others who can potentially provide essential input. On Sunday night at every SWEDU around the world, the creations are assessed by a panel of judges, who represent important decision makers (e.g. funders, customers, users). By the end of just one weekend, you’ll know what industry experts think of your solution (for better or for worse), and you’ll be able to use that knowledge to inform your next move. This is important, because as Lean Startup founder Eric Ries highlights, “The only way to (truly) win is to learn faster than anyone else.”

Want to attend a SWEDU? Here’s a full list of upcoming events.

Don’t see one listed in your city? Apply to organize an event.

If you liked this article, you may also like A Resource List Every Edtech Entrepreneur Should Have and 11 Brilliant Practices at Startup Weekend Education.

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.








A Resource List Every Edtech Entrepreneur Should Have

This post was updated on April 13, 2015

This list was compiled for a presentation I gave at a conference last month focused on building an edtech venture in the United States. It’s meant to be a brief synopsis of some of the key steps you should take, as well as some of the key players you should know about. If you find it helpful, leave a comment saying so. If you think important items are missing, please share them. Hopefully this can be something we all contribute to, in order to create a more comprehensive list of resources and opportunities that edtech entrepreneurs can benefit from.

Note: Edsurge, Imagine K12, and 4.0 Schools are official partners of Education Entrepreneurs

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If you liked this article, you may also like 5 Things You Can Do at Startup Weekend Education That You Can’t Do Anywhere Else

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.

 

 








Community Leader Spotlight: Hiro Miyakawa

ef8433bfc04795583e98be0a3ab8fe2dHiro Miyakawa is half Japanese/half Brazilian. He is 24-years-old and believes curiosity and learning is the essence of humanity and love.

Miyakawa is a Startup Weekend Education Organizer and the Founder of Kotobá, a connector of  students to engaging Japanese language lessons.

Find him on Twitter: @hrxm
Using his favorite hashtag: #go
Or on the web: kotoba.com.brabout.me/hrxm

 

***Read about Miyakawa’s Startup Weekend Edu Youth Recife event. For the first time, outside the US, young people set up educational startups in 54 hours.

——

What do you like to do for fun?
Watch tv shows, read books, talk, and travel. Try and do exciting things: Cook, surf, play, standup comedy.

If you could have any teacher (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would it be and why?

Nelson Mandela. He engaged people to make a better country. The humbleness he had when he left the prison and thanked the guard, the determination he had to be against the values of that time…. I have many things to learn from him.

What’s your favorite edtech company and/or innovative school, and why?

Udemy. It’s simple, practical, and skill-focused learning.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs (EE)?

After my first Startup Weekend, I was hooked. I talked to Gerson about it and we started Organizing one in Recife.

What’s been your involvement in EE to date?

Organized SWEdu Recife and SWEdu Youth Recife, meetups and talks.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer (and/or Facilitator)?Finding Sponsors.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer (and/or Facilitator)?
Seeing that I’m part of change and making the world better place! People leave the event empowered and talking about next steps. That’s fantastic!

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to those trying to build an education innovation community?

Engage with schools, teachers, professors, policy makers. They often don’t feel part of the entrepreneur world as devs and designers do. We have to make educators comfortable and communicate that they are the key people that will making things happen.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to people trying to create edtech products?

User experience is important. Engaging students to learn smoothly is the challenge in this mobile and internet world. It’s getting accessible, easy-learning, almost free, so the business model is challenging too.

You just launched the first ever SWEDU Youth Edition outside of the United States – congrats! Why did you decide to do it?

Youths are often excluded from entrepreneurship. “Too soon, too young” is the same excuse. We wanted to include them, hear them and challenge them to build educational solutions. There’s no convention that holds them back, and we wanted to see where all that creativity would take us.

What’s different about a SWEDU Youth Edition than a regular SWEDU?

In SWEDU Youth has step-by-step workshops. The kids don’t know pitches, costumer validation, etc. So we have to teach them in a practical way. Also, dedicated mentors make a huge difference. They act as godparents, guiding the kids through the whole weekend.

For those Organizers who may want to do a SWEDU Youth Edition in their community, what are the three biggest pieces of advice you’d give them?

  • The role of mentors is SUPER important. They stay together with the kids the whole time, they’ll be dedicated coaches.
  • Finding mentors that not only understand business and education but also is great with kids.
  • Having a consolidated school as partner is great to have trust from parents (and help approach the attendees’ parents)

What’s the legacy you want to leave in education?

Accessible and high-quality learning for everyone. We have technology to make it possible! I don’t wanna see a single person not taking a chance of his life because he didn’t have the opportunity to learn something.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would ____
be fun and engaging for everyone.

What are the books, events, videos, etc. that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?

Books:
Lean Startup
Business Model Canvas
Startup Communities
The Little Prince

Events:
Meetups (organize one!)
TEDx

Videos:
TED Talk Sir Ken Robinson “School kills creativity”
TED Talk Jeff Skoll “My journey into movies that matters”
TED Talk Jane McGonigal “Gaming can make a better world”

Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m really happy to be part of the EE community and help things happen here in Brazil. Being an Organizer at Startup Weekend Education is really enriching, it’s an honor to help people feel empowered by entrepreneurship. It’s a huge learning each time. We have lots of challenges to overcome in education but one thing is sure, we’re not alone. Peace 🙂








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. 








Community Leader Spotlight: Deborah Chang

 
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One-line bio

I am an educator and entrepreneur.

Find me in…

New York City

Find me on…

LinkedIn | Twitter | The Huffington Post

Favorite Twitter Hashtag
#nycedu

Website
www.debryc.com

Day Job
Co-Founder, Nexus Works

One-liner, describing your work
I support early stage education companies entering the NYC market by consulting on their product, organization design, and business development strategy.

What you like to do for fun?
This weekend, I went rock climbing, read a book about dragons, and went on a scavenger hunt. Basically, the more adventurous the activity, the better. I also have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Reddit.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs?
Nihal ElRayess organized an Idea Competition for Teach For America corps members and alumni. The winners were sponsored to attend a Startup Weekend Education in the Bay Area. Because of her, my startup idea partner, Jamie Lonie, and I were able to pitch and lead a team at that Startup Weekend Education. I think that experience for completely changing my life and giving me an opportunity to meet my first mentors in the education innovation space.

What’s been your involvement in Education Entrepreneurs to date?
I’m a three-time Organizer of Startup Weekend NYCEDU. Join us if you can on March 27th for the fourth annual event!

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer?
I feel the pressure to ensure that each event is as well-organized as it possibly can be.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer?
I know that I’m changing lives every time I organize an event. It’s a fantastic feeling.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to those trying to build community?
Find good people, establish common purpose, and do excellent work. Community is but the sum of the micro interactions that come from these three things.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to people trying to create edtech products?
Solve for a real pain point. It’s the big problems that need solutions. So find a problem worth solving and the team capable of solving it, and you’ll be 90% of the way there.

What’s the legacy you’d like to leave in the education space?
I’d like to look back and see a thriving education community that believes in “give before you get,” children first, and collaborative problem solving. 

What’s your favorite edtech company or innovative school, and why?
I started my teaching career at KIPP Academy Middle School in Houston, Texas. It is a school filled with people who are simply exemplary human beings, and their love for the children in their care permeates every interaction. The belief I have in the power of education to change the world comes directly from my experience in the halls and classrooms of KIPP Academy.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would ____
…be accessible to every child so that he or she can make the most of his or her inborn potential.

What are the resources or events that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?
Check out the Nexus Works Professional Development Board to see our recommend readings and videos. Principles from these books form the core of what we do!

Anything else you’d like to share?
If you’re someone who’s looking to move into education technology, take the leap! There are all sorts of ways to get involved, from within the classroom to outside. While this post — Help! I’m a Teacher…How Do I Get Into Education Technology? — was written for teachers, it can be just as applicable to you. Take a look, and, good luck!

 

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.








The 7 Most Surreal Moments of Startup Weekend Education Pittsburgh

Startup Weekend Education Pittsburgh (#SWeduPGH / @SWeduPGH) came and went from February 20th to February 22nd. It was a sold-out emotional roller coaster for its 120+ participants, hailing from as far as Mississippi and ranging as young as nine years old.

I wrote previously that this event was a dream come true, and indeed it was. However, there were moments in this event that made me wonder…

Consider the following moments:

1. Duolingo’s Luis von Ahn basically walked down the street to come talk to us.

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Luis von Ahn shares his idea to generate infinite energy from the kinetic activities at gyms. It did not take off. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

I’ve heard Professor von Ahn speak in person and at his now famous TEDxCMU talk numerous times, and I never get tired of the bombs he drops:

mic-drop

Prof. von Ahn also opened up about his struggles as an entrepreneurship – the nightmares of product, the perpetual campaign of “gamification,” and the immense complexity in providing a service for each language.

There’s nothing greater than when a local startup rock star maintains a sense of humility. Thank you, Prof. von Ahn!

2. That moment when Expii’s Po-Shen Loh made the entire crowd gasp in awe.

Po-Shen Loh dazzles the crowd with his brilliance and energy. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

I know it seems silly that I compared myself to Steve Jobs when he first saw Steve Wozniak’s PC and operating system for the first time, but I hope you all understand that feeling now.

amelie-blind-man-sees-o

When Professor Loh showed us all “The Map” – that seemingly endless web of knowledge that continually expands as people actively contribute to Expii via “colossal collaboration” – the entire room was floored.

keanu-whoa

Prof. Loh is just one of many in a community of game changers, and the best part: they’re more excited to meet YOU. Expii is currently live and ready for you to contribute.

3. A mother and son competed AGAINST each other (and, somehow, both won)

I did not discover this until well into the competition, but participants Wesley and her son Porter joined different teams: Project Playground and The Wrinkled Brain Project. Throughout, there was nothing but love and respect – sometimes a rare sight at an intense competition like Startup Weekend.

Mother-son bonding via intense weekend-long startup competition.
Mother-son bonding via intense weekend-long startup competition.

Although Mom ended up placing first in the competition, Porter was the real star of the event. This Startup Weekend featured the first “Reaping” ever – a sacrifice of one participant to entertain the other participants and maintain social order.

Something like this. Actually, almost exactly like this.
Something like this. Actually, almost exactly like this.

In this case, one would be selected to showcase Startup Weekend Pittsburgh’s own MegaBits – an MMOPRG monster-fighting mobile app played in the real world released a month ago at the iTunes store.

However, when the moment of selection came, Porter volunteered as tribute. 

porter-perini
Porter’s heroism was fortunately mentored by MegaBits CEO Patrick Perini. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

He managed to vanquish a Koldiak with a Grimlug’s flurry of tornadoes and saved the day. (I don’t know what these words mean.)

Well done, Porter, and Wesley – way to be an awesome parent. Speaking of which:

4. We’re convinced Pittsburgh would crush a Startup Weekend Youth.

As a judging and coaching dynamic duo, Entrepreneuring Youth‘s proud alums Jesse and Joziah Council were the most poised (and well-dressed) gentlemen at the event.

By far the best dressed at Startup Weekend Education Pittsburgh, or pretty much at any event.
Far too much style for a Startup Weekend Education Pittsburgh, or pretty much at any event. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

Our Youth Choice Panel not only counted their votes faster than the main judges did (that was my bad), they also entertained the audience with their enthusiasm.

Today's students, tomorrow's leaders. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.
Today’s students, tomorrow’s leaders. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

Lastly, who could forget that little girl who validated Penny Discovery’s MVP:

Children always make the best customers for validation. Always. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.
Children always make the best customers for validation. Always. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

The youth have spoken – they want more entrepreneurship!

5. Startup Weekends are not traditionally done in sub-freezing temperatures. (We Pittsburgh folk don’t care.)

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A Startup Weekend Pittsburgh hazing ritual for new volunteers. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

One of our platinum sponsors, Problem Solutions, dared our organizing team to borrow the Environmental Charter School‘s sleds and tear up some powder out in Frick Park.

walt-grata-sledding
Walt Grata of Problem Solutions feels cold in his manly beard. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.
group-photo-sledding
Fortunately, nobody was hurt in this insane endeavour. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

Some of the team made a snowman out in front. We decided to name it “Gusky” after Norton Gusky, a huge advocate in the Pittsburgh education community and the first person to buy a ticket at our event. Unfortunately, he fell ill and couldn’t attend, so we hope that this snowman was a fitting tribute.

gusky-with-team
Our team posting with Gusky the Snowman. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

6. Nobody else than Mandela Schumacher-Hodge could have facilitated SWeduPGH. Nobody.

Not only did we get the Global Director of Education Entrepreneurs, but we also got a woman who grew up in Pittsburgh’s East End and whose local legendary father Leroy Hodge fought relentlessly for the kind of future we hoped to represent at our event.

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Mandela laying down the rules of SWeduPGH. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

One of our judges, The Fred Rogers Center‘s President Bill Isler approached her after the winners were announced. Apparently, Mandela’s mom and Bill were previously commissioners of the Pittsburgh Dynamo Soccer League, where Mandela cultivated her enduring passion for the sport.

A reunion that transcends generation. Photo courtesy of Mandela Schumacher-Hodge.
A reunion that transcends generation. Photo courtesy of Mandela Schumacher-Hodge.

If you can name someone else who should have been with us that weekend… you don’t really exist, for you are a logical paradox. Welcome back home, Mandela!

7. The epic dance party you all missed (probably because you built a company in 54 hours)

No words necessary. Just a video of Startup Weekend Pittsburgh veteran Steve McCarthy showing off his salsa skills with facilitator Mandela:

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(In case you can’t see it – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7J60ElaTOM)

Convinced yet that there might be a higher power involved? Perhaps, but I’m more inclined to think it begins with this validated fact:

Education is a big deal in Pittsburgh, and entrepreneurship is a great way to stimulate its progress. 

It was too easy to recruit the right organizers and volunteers – I already knew the most passionate, committed, trustworthy, and hardworking people in town.

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We’re having no fun. No fun at all. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

We really didn’t have any trouble finding the right judges – we knew we wanted a teenage entrepreneur, three prominent women in educational technology, and a veteran in Pittsburgh school policy and philanthropy. Mission accomplished.

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Judges Joziah Council, Aileen Owens, Lisa Abel-Palmieri, Stephanie Butler, and Bill Isler having a great time. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

The greatest challenge with any Startup Weekend is outreach – despite our hard work, we never know until the last minute if people will come out to participate.

Not bad for a first time.
Not bad for a first time. So, when’s the next Startup Weekend in Pittsburgh, anyway?

So, on behalf of everyone, I thank you for experiencing what I had experienced just a few years ago – this event is and always will be for you.

I also ask that you do the following:

(Apply here: startupweekend.org/organizer/application/)

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Networking: gamified. Photo courtesy of Ben Matzke Photos.

After all, you’re now part of a big family, and we’re excited to have you.

Pretty surreal, isn’t it? 

Lee Ngo is the Regional Manager of the US East Coast for UP Global and the lead organizer of Startup Weekend Education Pittsburgh. Many of the photos in this post were provided generously by Ben Matzke Photos, all rights reserved.








Meet the Panelists Who Will Make You Question Everything About School

Why does school mean four walls, one teacher, and 20 students? Ever had an idea for how to reinvent a school from the ground up? In just a few weeks, Education Entrepreneurs will host a panel at SXSWEdu that will discuss how to design schools of the future that create opportunities for students and teachers to thrive. Personalized learning and competency-based education will be covered, as well as a framework for rethinking school infrastructure and specific next steps to begin the process of redesigning a school. Our panel involves an exciting line-up of educators, technologists, school founders, funders, and researchers. Continue reading below to get a closer look at who they are, checkout the panel location and time, and see the full line-up of Education Entrepreneurs events at SXSWEdu.

Jonathan Tiongco 

What do you do for work?

LA_JUDGE_JonathanTiongco-1406129944[1]I am the Director of Blended Learning for Alliance School Transformation (BLAST) implementation for Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a charter management organization serving 26 schools and over 11,000 students in Los Angeles, California. I oversee our portfolio of blended learning schools, which includes blended learning pilots, full-school conversions, and a Next Generation Learning Challenges grantee school.

What do you do for fun?

My wife and I live in Downtown Los Angeles with our two children, Madelyn and Miles. We absolutely love Los Angeles and try to enjoy all that the city has to offer, including all of the sporting events, public parks, library programming, and of course, our city’s amazing culinary scene. Because of this love for our city, we own and operate a Los Angeles-based food tour company called Six Taste where we take guests through nine different neighborhoods of Los Angeles, learning about the history, culture, and cuisine of these areas. Aside from this, we love to travel, dance, and hang out with our family and friends.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Change management and gaining buy-in from all stakeholders. For many of my colleagues, they have never worked in or experienced education in a blended learning environment. My challenge, which I love, is getting all of my team members to believe in the work that we’re doing and how it can make a positive impact on our students to better prepare them for college and career.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Supporting principals and teachers through ongoing professional development, mentorship, and coaching. Our principals and teachers are the ones doing the really amazing work of educating our children, so whatever I can do to support them is very rewarding for me.

What are you most excited to share with the audience at SXSWEdu?

Practical ideas and strategies for going blended in their school contexts.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, school is…

An unlimited passport allowing students to “travel” and learn about all of the wonderful people, places, and things that they’re passionate about at their own time, path, and pace.

 

Christine Ortiz

C086What do you do for work?

Currently, I’m a student in the Ed.L.D. program at Harvard.

What do you do for fun?

My favorite thing to do is just spending quality time with cool people. I enjoy playing poker, dancing and snowboarding now that I’m up north again. Does organizing events (like Startup Weekend Education) and coaching startups count?

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Being in school and not “doing” is super hard for me, but something I know I need to do right now to be able to really impact the sector in the future.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Being around really passionate, intelligent people with such a diverse set of experiences and points of view is a dream come true.

What are you most excited to share with the audience at SXSWEdu?

How possible (not easy, but definitely possible) it is to take a vision you have for education and make it a reality.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, school is…

A real life choose-your-own-adventure book.

Benjamin Kutylo

New Zealand Fly Fishing Expeditions - BK (32)What do you do for work?

I lead the Chicago Public Education Fund’s Innovation Portfolio, which is focused on empowering and enabling Chicago educators to redesign schools and classrooms to better meet the needs of each student. More specifically, I do the following:

  • Develop and launch programs that offer educators opportunities to rethink schools at various levels of depth and scale.

  • Make seed investments in other organizations to build and strengthen the ecosystem in Chicago to support innovation in education

  • Provide strategic consulting to district leadership and other Chicago-based organizations to create policies and strategies to support great educators in innovating.

What do you do for fun?

I’m an obsessed fly fisherman!

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Navigating the many complexities and competing forces in a huge city and district to accomplish our objectives.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Working with great principals, teachers and students and giving them time, space, guidance, support and some resources to develop solutions to the challenges they face.

What are you most excited to share with the audience at SXSW Edu?

The great work that Chicago educators are doing to redesign public schools of all types and the growing innovation movement in the nation’s third largest district.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, school is…

A place where the holistic needs of every child are met by educators and the school community effectively, efficiently and sustainably.

Check here for the full listing of SXSWEdu events that Education Entrepreneurs and its Community Leaders will be hosting. 








What time is it? SXSWEdu Time!

Last year, SXSWEdu was a blast, (if you need any reminding, check out our photo album). We’re certain that this year will be even better! From March 9-12th, we’ll be in Austin, TX participating in five SXSWEdu events.

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1. LAUNCHedu Competition

Early-stage startups seeking feedback, investment, strategic partnerships and exposure were invited to apply online to have their company considered for the competition. The promising startups that are selected as finalists in the competition will present their early stage business concepts before a judging panel of industry experts, early adopters and educators, as well as a live audience at SXSWedu. More details.

2. Workshop: Understanding and Empathizing With Education Users

How well do you think you know your user? Whether you’re a teacher trying to understand the needs of students in your classroom or an entrepreneur trying to understand the needs of teachers and students who use your product, empathy and understanding is the secret weapon of successful entrepreneurs. In this workshop, you will discover and practice techniques for understanding your user’s needs. More details.

3. Panel: Redesigning School As We Know It

Why does school mean four walls, one teacher and 20 students? Ever had an idea for how to reinvent a school from the ground up? This panel will discuss how to design schools of the future that create opportunities for students and teachers to thrive. What are the frameworks for thinking about what is needed in a new school model? If you’re interested in designing personalized learning and competency-based education, then this panel is for you. Meet the panelists and find out where this event will be hosted

4. Edtech Community Builders Meetup powered by Edtech Austin

Leading edtech events, programs or organizations in your community? Looking to take the edtech scene in your city to the next level? Edtech community builders from around the world are gathering at SXSWedu to swap stories and share tactics. More details.

5. Happy Hour in partnership with EdsurgeHireEdu4.0 Schools, and New Schools Venture Fund

Free entry and free drink tickets, but you must RSVP here.

 

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A few of our Education Entrepreneurs Community Leaders are also hosting events:

Gaming the System: Teachers Hacking the Classroom, featuring Community Leader Courtney Francis

A growing number of teachers are creating games of all shapes and sizes for their own classrooms. They’re defying conventions in creative ways that inspire and engage students (and teachers!) to learn through game play. Let’s talk about what that’s like, and lead the way for other innovative teachers. We’ll share remarkable work, discuss the creation process and inspire one another to think like game designers. Learn how to create, adapt, remix, mash up and integrate games in classrooms. More details.

Building an EdTech Bill of Rights, featuring Community Leader Katrina Stevens

In this 2-hour, hands-on interactive session, we’ll use a design process to collectively create an “Edtech Bill of Rights” that suggests the responsibilities of different members of the EdTech ecosystem and fosters authentic partnerships. Goal is to facilitate dialogue among teachers, EdTech leaders, researchers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders, with a focus on educator voices, for the purpose of working together across the ecosystem on innovative ideas that will improve student learning. More details.

 

For more information about Education Entrepreneurs, visit our website.