Today, we are excited to announce that 4.0 Schools and Education Entrepreneurs have formed a national partnership that covers two of our key program offerings: Startup Weekend Education and Workshops. As a leading incubator for pre-seed education entrepreneurs, 4.0 Schools will play a more active role at our events throughout the United States, ensuring our early stage entrepreneurs have a great next step to pursue, and that event Organizers feel supported in putting on a great event.
Since 2010, 4.0 Schools has launched 43 education ventures, 34 of which are still serving students, teachers, parents today. 4.0 Schools ventures have raised over $5M and earned more than $2.5M in revenue, and include such notable companies as Overgrad, Formative, Community Guilds, and Branching Minds. Also, several Education Entrepreneurs alumni have already taken advantage of 4.0 Schools programming, including Fantasy Geopolitics, Classtracks, Vidcode, and ImagiLabs.
With this new partnership, 4.0 Schools is excited to give Education Entrepreneurs participants the opportunity to bring their early stage ventures to 4.0 Schools for coaching and battle-testing their ideas with users via their two programs, Essentials and the Launch program.
- Essentials is a multi-day experience designed to help support 4.0 Schools community members move their ideas forward. Participants will practice the skills of empathy, unbundling, and prototyping, as they work to concisely define their customer or user, the problem they’re working to solve, and the solution they’re testing. Essentials alums walk out the door with a clear plan to test their idea.
- The Launch program supports entrepreneurs to bring new ventures – products, services, or school models – to life in under 90 days. If you’re a bold, gritty individual hungry to solve a tough problem, the Launch program will push you to test and iterate your envisioned solution until it is really meeting the needs of your end users. 4.0 provides an extensive test-bed in NOLA, where companies can iterate based on real user feedback and secure their first customers. During the Launch program, entrepreneurs will have access to coaching, connections, and equity-free capital up to 5k.
4.0 Schools is focused on more than just developing entrepreneurs. They’re committed to building communities of educators, entrepreneurs, and anyone looking to build the future of school. This new partnership will also more strategically connect our volunteer event Organizers and national Community Leaders with 4.0 Schools’ network and resources, to ensure the greatest impact possible can be made towards community building efforts focused on education innovation.
You can learn more about 4.0 Schools here.
The new year is underway, and so is our official planning for the first Startup Weekend Education in Pittsburgh. With many things to finalize before the big weekend on February 20-22, we’re thrilled to already have more exciting updates to share, including new sponsors, speakers, judges, and more.
Informational session: January 27
Are you in the education space but not sure what Startup Weekends are like? Or are you a serial Startup Weekend participant who’s not sure how to translate your skills to this new venture? Then come to our info session at AlphaLab Gear! We’ll have presentations and discussions, plus, in traditional Ed Tech Meetup fashion, delicious food.
Register now here: http://www.meetup.com/Ed-Tech-PGH/events/219675845/
Keynote speaker: Luis von Ahn of Duolingo
One of the more exciting developments in the past few days has been the confirmation of our keynote speaker, Luis von Ahn. Duolingo has continually been recognized as revolutionary tech for learning a language, and we couldn’t be more honored and excited to have one of the co-founders and CEO speak on Friday evening.
Sponsors: TurnItIn, Cherin Law Offices, and The Hardware Store
Of course Startup Weekend Education wouldn’t be anywhere without the generosity of the community, so we have many thanks to give to our newest sponsors.
At the gold level, TurnItIn is the worldwide leader in originality checking, online grading and peer review for educators, students, and researchers. Having such a pioneer in student learning at our event is a privilege.
Also at the gold level is local co-working space and technology services company The Hardware Store, which will also be handling all our digital media needs for the Sunday pitches. Many thanks to founder Josh Lucas for his ongoing support and documentation of startup events.
Steve Cherin, of Cherin Law Offices, is a frequent supporter of the startup community and we’re glad to have him officially on board as a silver sponsor. He provides legal services for many of Pittsburgh’s startups and is a valuable resource for companies at any stage.
First two judges: Lisa Palmieri and Elijah Mayfield
We’ve set a promising precedence with the confirmation of our first two judges, who will be among a panel of five.
Lisa Abel-Palmieri, Ph.D, is the Director of Technology and Innovation, the Director of Learning Innovation Institute, and the Head of Computer Science at The Ellis School in Shadyside. Dr. Abel-Palmieri is a prominent and active member of the Pittsburgh ed-tech community, and is involved in several projects, including Remake Learning and TRETC.
We’ve also confirmed Elijah Mayfield, who is the founder and CEO of LightSide Labs, which was recently purchased by TurnItIn. LightSide Labs provides writing support for students and teachers in grades 6-12, and his insight in the ed-tech scene will be invaluable.
We will send out more updates as we confirm more judges, mentors, sponsors, and vendors.
Questions? Email us at email@example.com.
Buy your tickets now for the inaugural Startup Weekend Education Pittsburgh and get 20% off with code EARLYBIRD until February 1, 2015.
If you’re a student, you can get 50% off your ticket with code STUDENT– you’ll be required to show a valid student ID at the event.
Our team is gearing up for Startup Weekend EDU in Boston this weekend and we’ve been excited to see incredible interest from local educators, students (high school, college, and graduate!), designers, developers, and professionals of all backgrounds. We’ll also be welcoming visitors from outside of the Greater Boston Area and we can’t wait to show them the talent, enthusiasm, and passion our city has to offer.
As participants are preparing for an intense 54-hours just before the holidays, we wanted to start a running list of resources that could help the make the most of their time. If you know of other great articles, presentations, or videos about education, edtech, product development, customer validation, creating a great user experience, etc. – let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our goal is to give our participants an incredible learning experience and introduce them to new people, skills, and perspectives all while thinking about how we can meaningfully impact the education markets.
Our top picks to get your creative juices flowing and help you make the most of Startup Weekend (work in progress!):
1) The Lean Startup Model for Edtech Entrepreneurs: A video on applying the best lean startup practices to education technology
2) Education Entrepreneurs: A quick guide to edtech business models, recent investments in this market, and business canvases
3) How to Start a Startup: Currently an online course from Stanford, this class is designed to be a sort of one-class business course for people who want to start startups.Video lectures from top VCs and Founders cover topics from building a team to scaling and raising money
4) Your must read book list: Entrepreneurship is, fundamentally, about the quality of our learning. If you’re an aspiring education entrepreneur, this is a list of must-read titles curated by 4pt0 Schools that will broaden your perspective and deepen your understanding
5) Edtech Market Map: Flybridge Capital does a great job laying out the education landscape and providing examples of companies currently working in each subcategory. Knowing your competition is key!
Entrepreneurship is a Journey
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve all heard this phrase used to set the context for those about to take their first leap into entrepreneurship, and I think most seasoned entrepreneurs would agree with the point it’s trying to make. The development and sustainment of a successful startup doesn’t just happen overnight; it takes months upon years of hard work, sacrifice, discipline, and execution to produce a venture that’s secured product market fit and established a solid foundation to ensure its livelihood for years to come. Due to the various obstacles entrepreneurs will have to overcome and the wide range of emotions they will experience trying to turn their vision into reality, some might argue that entrepreneurship is neither a marathon or a sprint – it’s moreso a marathon, a sprint, an Ironman Triathlon, Tough Mudder, and Tour de France all rolled into one, while carrying 50lbs on your shoulders.
No matter what you compare it to, the fact is, becoming a successful entrepreneur and building a successful startup is quite the arduous process. Success doesn’t just happen; large amounts of time and energy must be invested over extended period of times, and throughout various stages of the company’s development. Recognizing this, UP Global, created The Entrepreneurs Journey. Broken up into six stages, The Entrepreneurs Journey outlines the specific phases every entrepreneur goes through in pursuit of creating a prosperous venture. In order to ensure entrepreneurs’ needs are met at every stage, UP Global has created complementary programs for each one, including Startup Digest, Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Week, and Entrepreneurs Across Borders.
Education Entrepreneurship is Unique
Recognizing that entrepreneurs aiming to build education businesses face unique problems (e.g. developing products that align to both the needs of students and teachers, securing pilot opportunities in schools, navigating government policy around student data), UP Global developed Education Entrepreneurs. The goal of Education Entrepreneurs is to create a suite of programs and resources specifically to meet the needs of education entrepreneurs. Beginning with the popular “turn your idea into a startup in 54 hours” program called Startup Weekend Education, Education Entrepreneurs offerings have expanded to include Startup Digest Education, Bootcamps, and Summits. Whether interested in exploring different options to innovate in education, excited by the opportunity to build a prototype in a weekend, or ready to jump full steam ahead into the world of being an official edtech founder, Education Entrepreneurs is giving more people than ever the opportunity to utilize entrepreneurship and technology to solve problems in education.
Partnering With Imagine K12
In the past year alone, Education Entrepreneurs has expanded from 12 to 74 events, 9 to 59 cities, 3 to 24 countries, and 2 to 6 continents. This means nearly 7,000 people around the world have joined our community and are engaging in the innovation process. As we help increasingly more people enter education entrepreneurship, we want to make sure they have access to the best resources, mentorship, and funding opportunities throughout their journey. Earlier this year, we partnered with edSurge, the leading source of news and resources on education technology. This partnership has provided our community with access to important and timely content, valuable resources, and unique opportunities.
Today, we’re excited to announce that we are partnering with Imagine K12, the leading edtech accelerator. This partnership will give our education entrepreneurs better access to crucial mentorship and funding opportunities to scale their ventures and ensure the solutions they develop actually reach the learners they were designed to help.
Since 2011, Imagine K12 has cultivated hundreds of edtech entrepreneurs and companies by providing them with funding, mentorship, connections, and incredible guest speakers, like Mitch Kapor, founder of Kapor Capital, Eric Ries, founder of The Lean Startup, and Paul Graham, founder of YCombinator. Here’s some data highlighting Imagine K12 results to-date:
Launched more than 70 companies
Imagine K12 companies have raised more than $120 million
More than 10 million students and more than 1 million teachers are using Imagine K12 products
Remind, 2014 Educators Top Messaging App
Code HS, 2013 NBC Innovation Challenge
Hapara, 2013 NYC Schools Gap App Challenge
Raise Labs, 2013 GSV/ASU Education Innovation Summit
LearnSprout, 2013 MBA Impact Investing Network
Bloomboard, 2012 SXSW LAUNCHedu K-12
NoRedInk, 2012 NBC Innovation Challenge
ClassDojo, 2011 NBC Innovation Challenge
Over the past three years, several Startup Weekend Education and Startup Weekend alumni have been admitted into the Imagine K12 cohorts, including the founders of Class Dojo, NoRedInk, Blendspace, Plickers, Learning Jar, and Tioki. With a goal of connecting even more Startup Weekend Education alumni to valuable funding and mentorship opportunities, our new partnership with Imagine K12 will give all first place winners of Startup Weekend Education events a guaranteed interview with Imagine K12’s investment team, if they choose to apply. All teams participating in Startup Weekend Education events as part of the Education, Empowered Track during Global Startup Battle this weekend and next (November 14th-23rd) are eligible for this opportunity, and local Facilitators and Organizers will be equipped to answer participant questions.
As Education Entrepreneurs grows over the years, it is our goal to support education entrepreneurs at every single stage of their journey, and we’re excited that our partnership with Imagine K12 will help us achieve that.
More About Imagine K12
Imagine K12 is a startup accelerator for companies that are creating innovative technology solutions to enrich and transform K-12 education. Starting a company is hard, and the education market presents unique challenges. Imagine K12 has a singular goal: improving your company’s chances of success. They do this through a combination of strategic advice and mentorship; supportive networks of investors, educators, and entrepreneurs; and a small amount of initial funding (about $100,000). Over the past three years, Imagine K12 has helped to launch 70 companies, which have collectively raised over $120 million in funding and reached millions of classrooms around the country. Read why Imagine K12 is excited to partner with Education Entrepreneurs.
Since 2010, we’ve been developing programming to support individuals interested in leveraging entrepreneurship to improve education outcomes. Recognizing that education entrepreneurs face unique problems that require unique solutions, we’ve focused our energy on increasing the quality and range of our offerings to ensure entrepreneurs feel supported at every stage of their journey. Centering on Startup Weekend Education, a 54-hour experiential learning event, education entrepreneurs can also take advantage of education-specific reading lists, bootcamps, meetups, resources, and a global network of Community Leaders, who specialize in education innovation.
Opportunities to Connect and Grow
See our flagship program, Startup Weekend Education, in action
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The Community is Driving Growth
Any opportunity that people get to engage with our programming is due to the hard work and dedication of hundreds of volunteer Community Leaders dispersed throughout the world. Community Leaders are those special individuals who want to bring people together to collaborate on the creation of education solutions. They strategically use our programs, resources, and global network to support the development of an education innovation community in their city. It’s because of these Community Leaders, that more people than ever are gaining access to key information, skills, and a network that’s been shown to play a pivotal role in the development of successful education entrepreneurs.
Growth Over Past Year
A Few Success Stories
Several education entrepreneurs that participated in Startup Weekend/Education have gone on to develop edtech products and teams that have been admitted into some of the most prestigious startup accelerators in the world (e.g. Imagine K-12, Y Combinator). Here’s a few of them: Sam and Liam of Class Dojo, Dan of Clever, Jeff of No Red Ink, and the team of Experiment. These entrepreneurs have all created effective solutions to significant pain points of teachers and/or administrators, and their impressive traction has resulted in several million dollars being invested in their companies in recent years.
As a high school social studies teacher, Eric Nelson had a problem of his students being disengaged & disinterested in geopolitics. At the recommendation of his mentor organization, 4.0 Schools, Eric pitched Fantasy Geopolitics at Startup Weekend Education Chicago in 2013. A year later, his product is engaging over 10,000 students and 500 teachers in learning about the world in which they live via a fun “fantasy football” type of game.
Ed an internet entrepreneur, Simon a graphic designer, and Paul an educator built Night Zookeeper during Startup Weekend Education London in 2011 to improve creative writing and literacy skills in young children. Night Zookeeper is now used in more than 5000 schools by more than 500,000 children, and they’ve raised about $900,000 to-date.
At Startup Weekend Education New York City in January 2014, three female developers, Alexandra Diracles, Melissa Halfon, and Leandra Tejedor, teamed up to get more teen girls excited about technology. Feeling a mutual charging that the tech world is still heavily male-dominated, these entrepreneurs wanted to find a way to teach girls that coding and working in tech is creative and fun. What resulted was Vidcode, a video coding app that is not only self-expressive, but paired with a hobby that teen girls love – creating and sharing videos. Today, their Kickstarter Campaign has already reached its goal, with five days still left to go!
Recognition from the Broader Education Community
- Nominated for the “Better Together” Digital Innovation Learning Award (winner announced November 21st)
- Selected as a panelist at SXSWEdu 2015 (topic is “Redesigning on School as We Know It”)
- Invited to conduct the Keynote at this year’s NYSCATE Conference, the largest professional organization of technology-using educators and administrators in New York State
What’s even better, our successful and seasoned entrepreneurs often times return to our events as Mentors, Speakers, or Judges, guiding the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs, and strengthening the “pay it forward” culture our Community Leaders have established.
The Name Should Reflect The Community
Recognizing that our Participants, Community Leaders, and Mentors are just as much the drivers for success as the programming and resources themselves, we have made the decision to move forward with a new name that shines a light on exactly who is responsible for this growing education innovation movement: people passionate about education entrepreneurship. As of today, we are officially retiring the Startup Education name and establishing ourselves as Education Entrepreneurs. Clear, to-the-point, and representative of who we are, our community is excited to carry this message forward:
We are Education Entrepreneurs, a global and diverse community that uses entrepreneurship to improve education.
So What’s Next?
- Visit our website to learn more about Education Entrepreneurs
- Stay up-to-date by following us on social media (Twitter and Facebook), subscribing to our newsletter, and bookmarking our website
- Check out our list of upcoming events to see which one you want to participate in
- Bring education entrepreneurship to your own community by organizing an event
- Email EducationEntrepreneurs@up.co with any questions or comments
If you’ve participated in SWEDU you probably wondered what happened to all the teams that formed. Do they go on to have their company grow, quit their jobs, and take on their newly created project? Well yes. Some of them do.
Recently, we followed up with Melissa Halfon, VP of VidCode, to see where they are now, six months after they won Startup Weekend EDU NYC 2014.
1. Is everyone who was originally on the team still helping to build Vidcode? Vidcode is truly a Startup Weekend EDU Cinderella story. We were five strangers who teamed up to solve one problem: getting more girls into technology. Since the weekend, our team has neither lost nor gained a member. Allie, Melissa, Leandra, Terry, and Ken are all still dedicated to Vidcode.
2. Did you guys quit your jobs to work full time on Vidcode? Allie & Melissa seamlessly continued working on Vidcode full time after Startup Weekend EDU. Allie was completing her masters at NYU ITP at the time and centered her thesis on Vidcode, devoting all her energy to it as a result. Melissa found herself without a full-time position (for reasons unrelated) and used the serendipitous timing to continue her dedication to the project. Our other team members have continued to contribute to Vidcode outside of their full-time gigs.
3. What stage would you say Vidcode is at, as a startup? We spent six months after Startup Weekend EDU in full build stage, validating and testing the product. This summer, we were one of the teams in Launch, 4.0 Schools’ accelerator, during which we launched Vidcode’s public beta and identified our target market. Now we’re in the first growth stage, building our user base and selling to early adopters.
4. Have you gone for funding outside of kickstarter? We are currently raising seed capital.
5. Do you think you would have built Vidcode outside of Startup Weekend given the opportunity? The most valuable asset that emerged from Startup Weekend EDU was the opportunity to form an incredible team of like-minded people. The problem is so important to each team member that we would’ve found a way to address it individually. But without the complimentary and talented team we assembled that weekend, the results wouldn’t have been as powerful.
6. Anything else about Vidcode and any of the problems you’ve faced as you have worked to build this product. The response to Vidcode in general, especially from girls, has been so overwhelmingly positive. Their reactions to what we’ve built make all the risks, unknown, and sleepless nights very much worth it. We know there’s a place in girls’ lives where Vidcode belongs and we’re determined to get it there.
7. Also, what is it that the Startup Weekend community can do to help? Spread the word. Our success at Startup Weekend validated that we have a compelling product. We’ve built it out, and now we want to get it into the hands of as many teens and schools as possible. Startup Weekend has a huge following of education leaders and teachers and we want them to know about Vidcode to implement in their own classrooms. The best way to do that now is by supporting and sharing our Kickstarter! http://kck.st/1po2ul5
What does all this mean? It means you should come to the next SWEDU event, because you never know what might happen!
Want to get more updates like this? Subscribe to our mailing list for events and opportunities tailored for the Startup Weekend EDU NYC community.
Startup Education is the largest initiative in the world to provide year-round programming and resources dedicated to giving anyone, anywhere the opportunity to take action to improve education. SXSWedu is one of the most prominent conferences in the world focused on bringing people together to share ideas about fostering innovation in learning. Some say its a match made in education innovation heaven, and today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve submitted three proposals to present at next year’s SXSWedu conference. But we need your help!
30% of SXSWedu panel selection is based on public votes, which means your willingness to “thumbs-up” our proposals can mean the difference between new, action-oriented, and far-reaching approaches to improving education being shared, or the same ‘ol same ol’ narrative being told about the possibilities for education to evolve. We hope that our track record and vision going forward will inspire you to support our involvement in SXSWedu, but if that’s not enough, here are three key topics for discussion we’d like to add to the story being told at the conference:
- Edtech solutions, alone, will not transform education. Communities of people equipped with entrepreneurial skills, who are empowered to take action will transform education.
- A collaborative innovation process that involves multiple stakeholders, perspectives, and skill-sets is the best innovation process when it comes to improving educational outcomes.
- Creating the space to challenge what school traditionally looks like, feels like, and results in, spurs creativity and produces fresh ideas for designing improved models for learning.
Take Action: Place Your Vote by Friday, September 5th
Public voting officially ends Friday, September 5th. If you’re interested in helping us shake up the usual narrative about innovating education, and share the incredible grassroots work our Community Leaders around the world are doing to affect change, then complete these 3 quick steps:
Step 1: Create an account on SXSW Panel Picker. (If you already have one, skip to item #2 below)
- Click here to be directed to our SXSWedu proposal webpage.
- In the upper right-hand corner, select “Sign In.” You will be directed to a new page.
- On the Sign-In Page, select “Create Account.” Insert the required information, and your account will be confirmed.
Step 2: Vote for our three proposals
- Click on the links below
- On each page, select the “thumbs up” icon in the upper left-hand corner (Yes, you can vote for all three!)
- Vote for Growing an Education Innovation Community
- Vote for Understanding and Empathizing with Education Users
- Vote for Redesigning School As We Know It
Step 3: Share the opportunity
Know other people who want to shake things up?
Easily share this opportunity by clicking on the Twitter icons below:
- Grow your own education innovation community. Vote for this @SW_Edu panel at #SXSWedu: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/38230 #edchat #edtech
- Build with the education user in mind. Vote for this @SW_Edu panel at #SXSWedu: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/40721 #edchat #edtech
- Redesign School As We Know It. Vote for this @SW_Edu panel at #SXSWedu: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/42174 #edchat #edtech
Interested in checking out other SXSWedu panel submissions from Startup Education Community Leaders? See them highlighted here.
Want to learn more about Startup Education? Visit our website
Have comments or questions? Email email@example.com
On September 13th in Los Angeles, EdSurge is hosting its next Tech for Schools Summit, and once again, Startup Education wants to give one lucky Startup Weekend Education alumni the opportunity to earn the coveted “Startup Education Featured Company” spot, and showcase their product in front of hundreds of educators and school leaders. The deadline to apply is Thursday, July 31st, at 5:00pm PST, so read on to find out how you can take advantage of this incredible opportunity!
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What is the Edsurge Tech for Schools Summit?
Last month, Startup Education formed a partnership with EdSurge, the leading source of news and resources for education entrepreneurs. This partnership offers an opportunity for Startup Education’s global community of education innovators to engage with EdSurge’s timely content, resources, and opportunities – including EdSurge’s Tech for Schools Summits. Encompassing day-long events in a variety of cities around the country, the Tech for Schools Summits give educators an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with some of the most innovative technology being built for schools, and at the same time, gives entrepreneurs the chance to get unfiltered feedback from their end users.
What are the perks of being a “Startup Education Featured Company” at the Summit?
Application fee is waived
Participation fee for Saturday’s “Educator Day”
1 round-trip flight
1 night hotel accommodation
Your own showcase table, branded “Startup Education Company”
Who is eligible?
The applying team must be based in the U.S.
At least one member of your team has participated in a Startup Weekend Education (Volunteers, Coaches, and Judges are not eligible; only participants that worked on a designated team throughout the 54 hour event qualify as “participants”)
Your product is built for the K-12 market
Your company has raised less than $150,000
Your company is less than 2 years old
You must be available to travel to Los Angeles on September 12th and 13th
Where do I apply?
2 Applications to Complete
When are the applications due?
Both applications must be completed Thursday, July 31st, at 5:00pm PST
Anything else I should know?
Startup Education will cover the flight and accommodations for one team member. You are welcome to bring additional team members; however, your team will be responsible for those costs.
It is OK if the company you are applying to represent at the Summit was not developed at a Startup Weekend Education event. We are interested in knowing who on your team has participated in a Startup Weekend Education event, and what impact participating in the event has had on the development of your product.
When will we know whether or not our team has been selected?
Friday, August 8th at 5:00pm PST
What if our team is not selected?
You are more than welcome to still participate in the Summit and get tremendous value out the experience; however, like other companies attending, your team will be responsible for covering the registration fee, flight, and accommodations.
You can also consider applying for one of EdSurge’s upcoming Tech For Schools Summits.
This is the first of many opportunities that Startup Education will be doing to further support alumni teams from Startup Weekend Education. Subscribe to the Startup Education newsletter to learn more about these opportunities.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to learn more about Startup Education? Visit our website
Today, the Startup Weekend Education team and UP Global are excited to introduce Startup Education, a comprehensive set of programming specifically built for those interested in innovating education. We’ve also just kicked off an exciting new partnership with EdSurge, the leading source of news and resources on education technology. Read below to find out more.
The First of Its Kind
On June 3, 2011, the first Startup Weekend Education event launched in San Francisco, CA. Hosted at the offices of one of the most promising edtech companies at the time, Grockit, the event drew educators, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers from all around the country. Over the span of 54 hours, a group of roughly 80 participants pitched ideas, formed teams, received mentorship, and launched the first version of their startup aimed to solve a particular problem in education. The formula was pure magic!
ideas + teams + entrepreneurship + mentorship = innovative solutions
But that wasn’t surprising. Startup Weekend had been in existence since 2009, and the “idea-to-startup in one weekend” concept had already been proven in hundreds of cities around the world. What was up for debate, however, was the likelihood that this model could be applied to innovating education. The Startup Weekend Education event in San Francisco provided a good test, and the results were overwhelmingly positive.
Within a few months, Mountain View, Seattle, Washington DC, and London all followed suit, giving hundreds more people access to education entrepreneurship for the very first time. By the end of 2013, Startup Weekend Education expanded to 16 cities, spanning three continents, and played a pivotal role in the development of such companies as Clever, Class Dojo, Fantasy Geopolitics, and Trinket. In just over two years, Startup Weekend Education solidified itself as the largest starting point for education entrepreneurship in the world!
When You Know Better, You Do Better
The initial success of Startup Weekend Education proved that those passionate about leveraging entrepreneurship to solve problems in education could benefit from engaging in the 54-hour experiential learning event. However, as the number of events grew and increasingly more entrepreneurs went through the experience of trying to scale their venture beyond Startup Weekend Education, new learnings surfaced that highlighted opportunities for the program to improve its structure and expand its offerings.
In July 2013, Startup Weekend Education formed a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This partnership afforded Startup Weekend Education an important opportunity to apply its learnings from the first two years and build out new programming to further support entrepreneurs in their quest to get their innovations to the learners they were designed to help. Below is an outline of the expanded offerings:
- Startup Weekend Education: Increasing involvement of key stakeholders, such as educators, school administrators, and policy makers
- Special Editions: Focusing on a specific part of the education industry (e.g. Next Gen, Youth, Library)
- Sponsored Challenges: Connecting education problems that organizations want to solve with the community of entrepreneurs that are equipped to solve them
- Bootcamps: Teaching key information and skills to scale education innovations
- Meetups: Building community with others who want to improve education
- Resource Hub: Aggregating the most valuable resources for education entrepreneurs
- Pathways: Customizing paths people can take to play an influential role in the education innovation movement
- Summits: Gatherings bringing together Startup Education Community Leaders, participants, partners, and the broader public
The Start of a New Era
Expanding beyond the flagship 54-hour event known as Startup Weekend Education, the organization is excited to announce it’s new brand, Startup Education. Comprised of all the opportunities outlined above, Startup Education is the one place where anyone interested in education innovation can learn how to launch and scale their endeavors. Providing a comprehensive set of action-based opportunities for those passionate about innovating education, Startup Education has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.
Moving Forward Together
The ability of Startup Education to fulfill its mission is dependent on two main things: its community and its partners. Every Startup Education event is organized by a group of Community Leaders, forward-thinking individuals who volunteer their time, energy, and talents to empower others to play a role in innovating education. Startup Education is fortunate to have over 120 Community Leaders all over the world, and it is these special people who are the captains of this ship.
Startup Education is also fortunate to have formed a partnership with EdSurge, the leading source of news and resources on education technology. Going into effect July 2014, this partnership represents the pairing of Startup Education’s global community and action-based programming with EdSurge’s timely content, resources, and opportunities created specifically for education entrepreneurs.
The Startup Education community looks forward to utilizing EdSurge’s Edtech Index, Reports, and Guides to better identify opportunities to pursue and pitfalls to avoid. With the inclusion of EdSurge’s Tech for Schools Summits and Jobs, Opportunities, and Events Boards, the Startup Education community members will be aware of all the opportunities available to them as they navigate their journey through the education ecosystem. With the support of EdSurge, the Startup Education community will be better equipped to take on the hefty challenge of disrupting education.
The Time is Now, The Leader is You
Last year, 11 Startup Weekend Education events took place in North America and Europe. During the first six months of this year, there have already been 13 events, including two Youth events, one Library event, and one Next Gen event. With 39 more events already being prepared (including several Bootcamps launching this summer), Startup Education is on track to experience a 500% growth, closing out 2014 with 70 events, spanning nearly every continent on the globe!
With the addition of new programming, increasing interest to organize events, growing leadership within the community, and a valuable new partnership with EdSurge, the opportunity to change education for the better has never been more promising.
As with any truly catalytic movement, though, there is one particular factor that makes all the difference: the people. It is the people who show up and make their voice heard, it is the people who choose to collaborate, it is the people who put in the hard work, and it will be the people who determine what is done with this opportunity; this rare opportunity to play a role in shaping the future of education. Startup Education is confident that the people will rise to the occasion.
Startup Education Community Leaders from five continents gathered at the UP Summit in Las Vegas in May 2014
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“When faced with a choice among colleges, go with the least expensive option,” Mark Cuban suggests. “Most 18-year-olds don’t know what they want to do with their life, nor do most 22-year-olds. Saddling graduates with high debt makes no sense.”
Before a panel with Keith Clougherty (CEO, Copley Retention Services) and Dr. Sara Goldrick Rab (Professor of educational policy studies and sociology, University of Wisconsin Madison) at the ASU+GSV Education Innovation Summit, Cuban shared with EdSurge his motivations for investing in the education space.
A savvy entrepreneur, Cuban has a history of getting in trouble with authorities for challenging rules that he doesn’t agree with and finds inefficient. Recently, he’s put money on several startups looking to shake up the higher education industry: Copley Retention Services, Ranku,Packback and Degreed.
“[Higher education] is a business that doesn’t know it’s going out of business,” says the graduate from Indiana University. “Colleges have been caught up with trying to keep up with the Jones’ instead of focusing on their customer. They’ve been too concerned with looking and sounding good instead of delivering a product.”
It’s no secret that universities spend millions on things that have nothing to do with student outcomes. Extreme examples can easily be found in the billions of dollars that top-tier sports programs spend to attract star athletes. (Cuban says he’s refused to fund an arena at his alma mater because he believes this is not what universities should be spending their money on–instead they should be focused on supporting student outcomes.)
Historically, Cuban says, colleges have catered to a particular segment of students who willingly pay full tuition for things like swanky cafeterias, climbing walls, and other amenities unrelated to educational outcomes. But he believes these students, “who will continue to get smarter about real value” will no longer be willing to pay for–let alone afford–such things.
“As the market begins to shift towards outcome-based [goals], colleges will have to change,” comments Cuban. Pushback against high tuitions from students and parents, along with increased scrutiny from the government (seen in efforts like President Obama’s proposed college ratings system), will force colleges to rethink what value they’re really bringing to the table–or go out of business. In five years, he expects some schools to close up shop and others to change their models radically.
Easy access to money for college is also part of the problem, he says. Cuban believes the industry is currently propped up by government loans which has skewed the higher education business model. Cuban would like to see loan limits capped at $10K.
Cuban admits that he’s not an expert in higher education, but his gut feeling tells him “it’s broken.” His investment decisions, he says, depend “on relationships with people he can trust.” And he only picks entrepreneurs who develop relationships with their first customers and build slowly, instead of focusing on raising capital too soon.
He is bearish on the proliferation of accelerators and incubators: “Entrepreneurs shouldn’t participate. These programs focus entrepreneurs on raising money and not on building a business.”
“Incubators can become an easy crutch that get in the way of the entrepreneur,” he adds, arguing that every entrepreneur has to find his or her own way rather than following templates that worked for other companies in the past.
“I look for inflection points in the industry and I look for products that can scale,” he adds.