On Wednesday evening, the LearnLaunch accelerator hosted its third annual Demo Day at District Hall in the Seaport District. Entrepreneurs from six edtech startups pitched their products and business plans, developed throughout LearnLaunch’s immersive four-month program to a packed room of more than 200 angel investors, venture capitalists and education leaders.
While each of the companies vary significantly in their visions and products, they all share one mission: to improve the quality of education by tackling some of its toughest problems. To support them in achieving that goal and enable their growth, LearnLaunch provided each of the startups with up to $16,000 in seed funding, office space, intensive coaching, and mentoring, as well as other services and resources.
“This group of companies approached very specific, targeted niches and is creating some of the most promising technology solutions in education,” said Liam Pisano, managing director for LearnLaunch, in a statement.
Here are the companies that presented at LearnLaunch’s third Demo Day:
Pip Learning Technologies
How can educational institutions protect student information without stifling innovation?
This company’s core service, The Trust Platform, helps school districts manage access to third-party systems storing sensitive data, thus reducing the costs and complexities for both sides while respecting student privacy. With more and more information moving to the cloud, CEO Tyler Gannon noted that this is a particularly timely and relevant problem to address. The question is, how can educational institutions protect student information without stifling innovation? And the answer, he says, is to build a trusted data exchange engine, and then get to scale by selling directly to states. So far, Pip Learning Technologies boasts 60,000 users and has raked in about $70,000 in revenue. Both co-founders are Microsoft veterans.
Knowledge to Practice
This firm aims to improve patient-centered care through personalized, mastery-based postgraduate medical education. Ultimately, Knowledge to Practice is seeking to shrink the gap between medical breakthroughs and implementing that new knowledge. And by delivering meaningful, personalized learning experiences, the company claims to make physicians more competent and furthermore, more current. CEO Mary Ellen Beliveau stated that K2P is useful for academic medical centers because it enables them to attract and retain top talent and increase clinical influence. For healthcare systems, K2P provides objective assessments of physicians’ knowledge and performance while ensuring that all MDs are appropriately credentialed. And for clinicians, K2P offers engaging, effective and accessible content that drives mastery.
Founded by MIT leadership, this company designs and develops what it calls “assessment templates” that test students’ knowledge and mastery of skills. Specifically, Authess is focused on creating performance-based, cognitively complex assessments beyond the traditional multiple-choice tests. Leveraging natural language processing, data analytics and other advanced technologies, the startup is currently building a platform that it claims can reduce the cost and time it takes to deliver authentic assessments. Authess tracks a learner’s path to solving a problem, which enables them to identify gaps in the learner’s skill and understanding. The company then captures and reports data illustrating what a learner knows, as well as what he or she can do. Given that more and more employers demand evidence of skills for hiring and professional development, particularly in fast-changing industries, Authess asserts that their product has a significant advantage over multiple choice tests for going beyond the current status quo.
Tel Aviv, Israel
These toys are much more interactive than anything that can be found on the shelves of a toy store.
With an understanding that toys play a key role in kids’ development, this company aspires to empower children to create their own by making hardware development kits for kids for 3D printable smart toys. The NI-Toys kits aren’t just for children, though: They can be used by essentially anyone who has access to a 3D printer. The idea is that these toys are much more interactive than anything that can be found on the shelves of a toy store. Furthermore, they allow kids to use their imaginations, morphing an idea into a toy that looks and feels the way they want it to. Additionally, they aren’t limited to one way of playing. Instead, they can change the way the toy behaves as well as the type of game they play with it. NI-Toys will soon be launching its Beta.
This company has translated 42 Common Core directives into 154 free writing, grammar, and vocabulary Web-based activities for middle and high school students. The literacy tools Quill offers include Proofreader, which provides students passages that have grammatical errors in them; Grammar, which teaches grammatical concepts through sentence writing exercises; and Writer, a two-player activity where students take turns writing a passage together from a shared list of words. Empirical, the nonprofit that developed Quill, was previously awarded a $200,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build out its platform for interactive writing and grammar activities with new products.
Founded in 2011 by two special education teachers, this company offers a platform that empowers teachers who serve students with special needs using the latest research-based strategies and learning biographies for seamless collaboration. The mission of Education Modified is to leverage technology to develop research-based, user-friendly teaching tools that maximize achievement. And the company claims its tools can help teachers break down barriers and reach all types of learners. Teaching strategies are broken down into categories for various learning impairments, such as ADHD, autism, reading and writing disorders like dyslexia, and behavioral and memory disorders. Teachers can then select from those options to find activities best suited for any particular child. Currently, most special needs instructors are required to examine a vast amount of information about various disabilities, and keep a detailed portfolio of each child’s development, which is why such a significant number of special needs teachers resign within their first five years. That’s where Education Modified comes in: The startup’s technology and data is supported by a wealth of research, and its services help special education teachers more easily provide special needs students with the highest possible quality education.
Photo courtesy of LearnLaunch.