We’re going to take your mind off turkey, sugarplums and whatever else is dancing in your head right now. In case you haven’t heard, BostInno’s 50 on Fire is on the horizon, with our annual awards ceremony taking place at the Moakley Courthouse on December 7. We’ve already announced the finalists in the running for being named our city’s hottest innovators in 2016 (in our opinion, anyway) and now we’re bringing you more intel on what makes them so caliente.
Let’s take a look at the 50 on Fire Finalists in the Education category this year. And if you want to know which of the companies and individuals below take it all the way home in December, make sure you snag a ticket to our event before they’re all gone.
The Boston nonprofit helps prepare young students in underserved communities for college and ultimately career success by exposing them to entrepreneurship and experiential learning. It currently serves students at six high schools in Boston: Another Course to College, Charlestown High School, Community Academy of Science and Health, Dearborn STEM Academy, Jeremiah E. Burke High School and Madison Park High School. In October, BUILD celebrated its fifth anniversary with a gala, raising $650,000 to fuel its four-year entrepreneurship program for Boston youths.
Cengage is exemplary of extraordinary comebacks. Two years ago, the company bounced back from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What had once been a traditional textbook publisher turned into an edtech company in Seaport. Now, more than 50 percent of its revenue comes from its learning tech. In August, it integrated the Pathbrite app into MindTap, Cengage’s primary digital learning offerings, and in September, the company acquired WebAssign.
Debi Kleiman: Babson’s Blank Center for Entrepreneurship
Kleiman is the executive director for Babson’s Arther M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. A marketing exec vet, Kleiman previously served as managing director and executive vice president at Havas Media. And before that, she was the president of MITX (Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange), our state’s industry association for web and mobile innovators.
Founded by Harvard and MIT in 2012, edX lets people take free online courses offered by top-tier universities. It’s now working with 90 partners around the world, including MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, Caltech, Dartmouth, UPenn. The nonprofit offers Open edX, an open-source platform with which educators can build learning tools.
The edtech startup Firecracker uses an algorithm that centers on medical students, assigning them review materials before they forget a concept they’ve learned. It operated in stealth mode for six years, bootstrapping the entire business. Now, it has almost 20,000 med students throughout the U.S. paying to use Firecracker for their courses and licensing exam prep. It’s also been dealing directly with universities like Stanford and Wake Forest, experiencing more than 100% year-over-year growth with these partner institutions.
Flywire (f.k.a. peerTransfer) started off providing a solution for international students looking to make tuition payments safely. In the past year, it’s expanded its fintech services to include patients paying healthcare institutions. Flywire works with more than 1,000 universities worldwide and hospitals throughout North America. It’s processed billions in payments from more than 200 countries and has offices in Boston, London and Manchester, UK, Shanghai, Tokyo, Valencia, Spain, and Singapore.
Jodi Goldstein: Harvard Innovation, Launch & Life Labs
Goldstein, a serial business development exec, is the managing director of the Harvard Innovation Lab, which supports innovation among Harvard students. She helped start the iLab as an experiment five years ago. Since that time, it’s taken off, currently assisting nearly 60 student startups. She’s also expanded her initiative with the Launch Lab, a coworking space catering to alumni ventures located across the street from the iLab on HBS’ Allston campus. Most recently, Goldstein has headed up the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab, a new 15,000-square-foot facility dedicated to student innovation in the life sciences that was completed this past month.
Ready4, previously known as LTG Exam Prep, provides mobile learning solutions. It recently announced it has surpassed more than 1.2 million downloads of its free apps. It offers seven apps to help students and graduates prepare for standardized tests. They encompass prep for everything from PSATs and SATs to the GMAT and MCAT. In March, it raised a $5.33 million Series A funding round led by Square Peg Capital in March to add to their senior management team and expand its product offerings.
The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, as the name implies, fosters entrepreneurship at the Institute. It serves all students across all schools and disciplines, providing innovation resources and programming throughout the year. In June, the center unveiled its remodeled and expanded coworking digs, which can better accommodate startups on campus, host larger events centered on entrepreneurship and even boasts a new makerspace called Protoworks. The Trust Center’s accelerator program, the Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator, recently reinvented itself as “delta v” (that stands for acceleration in physics) with the completion of its latest cohort.
Nick Ducoff: Northeastern University
He’s the vice president of new ventures at Northeastern, as well as the founding director of Level, which provides university-run tech bootcamps. In the past year, he’s led Level to growth. It’s now offering bootcamps in Boston, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Charlotte and, come January, Toronto. It started last year with 12 students and since then, has graduated 99 students with another 70 enrolled in programs. He’s worked with companies like Amazon Web Services and Cisco to create bootcamps on new topics and just came to an agreement with Northeastern to grant Level graduates course and tuition credits. Previously, Ducoff was the vice president of content and operations at Boundless.
At the beginning of the year, following a $15 million Series A raise, Panorama doubled the size of its office space to make room for growth. According to Aaron Feuer, Panorama’s Co-Founder and CEO, the startup’s headcount has doubled since then. When we spoke with them in September, its total customer count was at 303, and 38 districts in Massachusetts were using its product. It brought on two new executives, Daphne Dor-Ner as director of product and Travis Willard as vice president of marketing and sales. And it had just signed New York City, the largest school district in the U.S., as a client.
Partnering with universities throughout the country, Shorelight Education helps educational institutions set up International Accelerator Programs, which assist international students acclimate to campus and academic culture in the U.S. during their first years. In the past several months, it’s partnered with U.S. News & World Report, UMass Amherst, the University of Illinois in Chicago and the University of the Pacific in California.
TetraScience brings the Internet of Things to the scientific community. Its hardware and software enable researchers to manage their experiments remotely to prevent anything from going awry. It’s now working with companies like Roche and Mass General. “We’ve doubled our headcount, doubled our customer base and doubled our revenue,” Alok Tayi, co-founder and CEO at TetraScience, told us about the first half of 2016 back in June.
Thank you to our 50 on Fire Sponsors
Interested in getting involved? Contact Us!