Startl, a nonprofit created to identify and ramp up education technology companies and their innovations, announced today the initiation of a capital campaign to continue its work accelerating innovation and investment in education technology. Deemed Startl 2.0, the campaign will leverage the infrastructure and success of Startl’s inaugural year.
Launched in 2010, Startl received initial seed funding from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Lumina Foundation. Over the year, Startl leveraged the founding team's understanding of the education space, business acumen and extensive professional networks to encourage and facilitate innovation in education technology. By engaging with early-stage entrepreneurs to guide the development of their products, bridging critical industry stakeholders and funders, and by showcasing the most promising innovative companies in EdTech, Startl was able draw attention to and build community in this quickly accelerating market. As part of this strategy, in partnership with design leader, IDEO, and the business accelerator, DreamIt Ventures, respectively, Startl introduced two incubating programs in 2010: Design Boost, a week-long bootcamp for prototyping digital learning products, and Startup Accelerator, a three-month immersion into product design, market strategy and business development for early-stage learning enterprises. Finally, to expose great new talent and products to potential investors, Startl collaborated with Berkery Noyes, Education Growth Partners, the Aspen Institute and Investors Circle in a variety of showcase events.
“Startl was founded in an effort to support entrepreneurs interested in building learning-rich, market-smart digital products and services focused on anywhere, anytime learning,” said Phoenix Wang, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Startl. “Startl 2.0 is the natural next step to expand and enhance the services we offer the EdTech sector for entrepreneurs but also for investors and consumers as well.”
At the epicenter of Startl 2.0, Co-Founders and Managing Directors Laurie Racine, Diana Rhoten and Phoenix Wang, are seeking to launch a physical “laboratory” location that will foster innovation and collaboration and create a community for stakeholders to interact. The laboratory will be designed to be a creative workspace and playspace where emerging and incumbent companies alike can test out elements of product design and get real time user feedback, test marketing campaigns to see if they reach their intended audience in meaningful ways, as well as explore ways to sell to consumers, whether they are students, teachers, parents or institutions.
“Already the Startl team has proven the significant impact they can have on early-stage education companies, from sharing their business and education expertise, to bridging the gaps between private and philanthropic investors and education start ups, to supporting innovative EdTech entrepreneurs in a sustained way,” said Adam Newman, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Education Growth Advisors. “The idea of a laboratory is a powerful and exciting concept. By offering an environment for education entrepreneurs, Startl will not only be able to help them develop their ideas and launch their companies, but they’ll also provide an outlet for them to engage, inspire and collaborate with one another, further establishing Startl as an invaluable resource for EdTech start-ups.”
In addition to the laboratory, Startl 2.0 will also add:
• A Boost/Accelerator hybrid program, with shorter more frequent cycles, serving more entrepreneurs each year
• A new annual innovators showcase event co-hosted with Education Growth Advisors for emerging EdTech companies and funders with interest in the market
• A new testing and marketing program so that entrepreneurs can reach testers and users during the product design and development phase
“The Startl team is comprised of visionaries that not only know the education space, but can see where the market is moving,” said Sean Conway, Co-Founder and CEO of Notehall.com, an online marketplace for college students to buy and sell class materials and a participant in the “Education Innovators Showcase” at the 2010 Venture Capital in Education Summit hosted by Berkery Noyes and Startl. “Their unique understanding of the industry and strategic insight was invaluable to Notehall, helping us develop and grow as well as forge partnerships with investors and other entrepreneurs that would not have otherwise been possible.”
“Beyond providing access to fantastic resources that help start-ups develop innovative learning products, Startl builds community within the education technology space and breaks down barriers, connecting early-stage entrepreneurs and industry leaders,” said Gabriel Adauto, co-founder of Motion Math, a movement-based, mobile education company and a 2010 participant of Startl’s Design Boost program. “Startl 2.0 will further enhance that community by creating a space where entrepreneurs, ideas and investors can interact and influence the future of learning.”
“EdTech can be a little lonely, especially for innovative early-stage companies that are exploring ideas that are unfamiliar to the industry, so it would be incredible to have a place where you can discover your peers and gain access to an influential team that can help you navigate the process,” continued Conway. “Startl needs to create that space.”
Startlis a social enterprise dedicated to accelerating the growth of digital innovations for learning – from kindergarten to college, inside and outside the classroom. Focused on catalyzing next generation products with the greatest promise of transforming the education sector and the learning market, Startl recruits young innovators and entrepreneurs, immerses them in a rigorous product design and development process and helps them build socially responsible and fiscally sustainable start-ups. Startl has received initial seed funding from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Lumina Foundation. For more information, visit www.startl.org