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