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With the Startup Weekend Education DC event only THREE days away, we thought you might be interested to see who will be judging YOUR final pitches!

Why do Startup Weekend Education events have judges? Well, judges evaluate the final presentations on Sunday to provide valuable feedback to teams. It’s also a great learning experience for those that pitch on Sunday – many of whom are pitching before a panel of professionals/investors for the first time.

Event Judging Criteria

  • Education Impact:  The Startup Weekend Education event is slightly different than other Startup Weekend events in that “Education Impact” is an additional, equally weighted category.

    • Is this solving a problem in education? (i.e. the solution focuses on the acquisition of knowledge, the transfer of knowledge, teaching, learning, retention of information)

    • Is this solving a significant problem in education?

    • Is this solution better than what’s being done now?

    • Will this solution make a significant impact in the world?

  • Customer Validation/Business Model: Have you taken the proper steps to ensure that the people who matter (your future customers) support and reinforce your assumptions? Think of Customer Validation as ‘evidence’ to back up the core structure of your ‘theory’ (your Business Model). The more feedback you gather (quantity), the more this feedback comes from your specific target market (quality), and the more you’re able to actually integrate this feedback into the Business Model and product development (execution), the better. Lastly, if you haven’t got answers to these questions, you’ve spent too much time on frills & features and need to get back to the basics:
    • Who is your customer?
    • What is your core value proposition?
    • What are your key activities?
    • What are your revenue streams?
    • What is your cost structure?
    • Who/what are your key partners/resources?
    • What are your distribution channels?
    • What is your rollout strategy?
  • User Experience/Design: This covers the experience your user will have when engaging with your product. Is it easy to use and intuitive (i.e. “user-friendly”)? Why was it determined that it’s best to build this as a mobile app vs. a web app (or vice versa)? How many users have currently engaged with your product? How will the design evolve if given more time and resources to work on this product?
  • Execution: The nitty gritty: what has your team been able to actually build over the weekend? Do you have an MVP and functional demo? Even the strongest of Business Plans are useless in the hands of those who can’t properly execute on them. Getting as far as possible in the development of your product/prototype not only helps give Judges a tangible vision of what the final product could be, but proves your strength and skills as a team

Meet Your Judges!

Leslie Jump has 25 years experience building, advising, and investing in new companies in the US as well as internationally. Her current focus is Startup Angels, a platform to inspire and enable new angel investors across the US and around the world. Previously Leslie was a partner in Sawari Ventures, a Cairo-based venture capital firm investing. She continues to serve as an advisor to Flat6Labs, Sawari Ventures’ accelerator for seed-stage investments, as well as on the boards of several startups and nonprofits.

Katya Andressen is the CEO of the education media company Cricket Media (formerly known as ePals). Cricket Media provides award-winning digital content on a safe and secure global network to connect kids around the world. Katya’s background is in organizational strategy and management, marketing and communications, digital and traditional media, technology/SaaS product development, and the philanthropic sector in the United States, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Prior to joining Cricket Media, Katya was COO and CSO of Network for Good, a technology platform and SaaS enterprise for digital giving and social actions that was founded by AOL, Yahoo!, and Cisco. From 2009-2013, she was also an adjunct professor of strategic communications at the American University Key Executive Leadership Program. Prior to that, Katya was Senior Vice President of Sutton Group, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. I worked with the Institute for Sustainable Communities in Ukraine and at CARE International in Atlanta, GA. Katya got my career start as a foreign correspondent for Reuters News and Television in Asia as well as for Associated Press and major U.S. newspapers in Africa. Katya wrote the book Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy for Just Causes and am a contributor to several books on social causes, marketing, and social media.

Suhail Farooqui is widely recognized as a visionary helping America’s public schools become more relevant and effective at their core mission. He is among the leading voices convincing educational leaders that the traditional ways of building engagement with parents, teachers, staff and students are no longer effective, as we face the confluence of three major realities — extremely high expectations of public education, serious reductions in educational funding and historically low levels of trust accelerated by the advent of social media. Suhail’s vision of what constitutes an adequate response has been incorporated into the training of new superintendents in several states.

A serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Shahed Amanullah currently serves as CEO & co-founder of LaunchPosse, a Washington DC-based startup that helps people turn entrepreneurial ideas into reality by leveraging their social networks. Prior to starting LaunchPosse, Shahed served as Senior Advisor for Technology at the US Department of State, where he worked in the bureaus of Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, and was responsible for building the Generation Change and Viral Peace projects. Shahed worked closely with the White House and other agencies on social entrepreneurship, social media policy, combating online extremism, and fostering innovation. Shahed is also the founder of Halalfire, a producer of online content and market research for global Muslim communities. In 1998, he created zabihah.com, the world’s largest Halal restaurant guide, with 10 million annual users and 500,000 app downloads. He also created altmuslim.com, an award-winning online magazine with 2.5 million annual unique users, and served as its editor-in-chief for 10 years before its 2011 acquisition by Patheos. Earlier, Shahed served as co-founder and CEO of Relatia, a venture-backed mobile software company that was acquired in 2001. Shahed has been featured in pieces about technology, foreign policy, and media trends in places such as Wired and CNN, has spoken at the Council on Foreign Relations and Center for American Progress, and has published essays in venues such as the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. He has also served on the boards of several non-profits focused on building stable Muslim-American identities. Shahed has a BS from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Georgetown.

Fahad Hassan is the Founder and CEO of Always Prepped. Fahad is an education entrepreneur focused on building technology companies to improve educational outcomes. Mr. Hassan’s first venture backed company, Daylert, which he founded in 2006 was an online provider of social calendaring and text messaging services to college students. Daylert was acquired in 2008 by Intelliworks. At Intelliworks Mr. Hassan served as the V.P. of Business Development helping the Higher Education focused CRM provider form strategic partnerships in an emerging cloud computing market. Intelliworks has raised $28 million in venture funding and is currently a leading provider of CRM services within the Higher Education community. Mr. Hassan also volunteers with several non-profit organizations in the Washington D.C. area such as NFTE (National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship) where he tutors middle and high school students in math, reading, and science. He also helps mentor young entrepreneurs, judges regional business plan competitions, and speaks regularly at schools across the country about entrepreneurship and leadership. Some of these institutions include include Virginia Tech, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard, Georgetown, University of Pennsylvania, and Fordham University among others. He also regularly speaks at conferences in education, technology, and entrepreneurship on the following topics: business ethics, education, web technologies, and leadership development.

We are looking forward to seeing you at this event and remember to bring friends!

Mary Simonds