Education Week featured an article on Imagine K12, the incubator program for education startups and the lessons that entrepreneurs are learning about how to develop successful companies. The author, Jason Tomassini summed up the issue that Imagine K12 addresses:
“Many entrepreneurs in K-12 believe technology can solve education’s problems, but don’t work to understand those problems before prescribing technology to solve them. That frustrates educators and can be a recipe for failure for fledgling companies.”
It reminded me of a moment with Joel Klein, former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education who said recently at the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco event: “…when it comes to the intersection of education and technology, simply putting a computer in front of a student, of a child, doesn’t make their lives any easier, or education any better.”
The Imagine K12 founders are working to help people who start education businesses understand what educators truly need. Twice a year, for three months, the incubator program offers a handful of companies guidance, connections to investors and seed money. But it’s all for nothing if the company doesn’t understand what educators truly need.
Imagine K12 proudly displays its results since its inception last summer:
- 13 of 19 companies have received investor funding. Four others are active and growing.
- Imagine K12 companies have collectively raised more than $10 million from angel investors and venture capitalists.
- Imagine K12 companies and products have helped more than 200,000 teachers and 3 million students.
A former public school teacher named Mandel Schumacher-Hodge recently founded a company called Tioki, which is a LinkedIn-style professional network for educators. She presented at the Imagine K12’s “educator day” to around 100 teachers and school administrators. She consulted with Tim Brady, one of Imagine K12’s founders for ideas on how to get her company off the ground. Brady indicated a need for a service that empowers teachers, and sees potential in Tioki. He is working with Schumacher-Hodge on how to best present her company to investors and inspire educators to give it a shot.
The article also featured a video with Tess Brustein, co-founder of SmarterCookie, a website that lets teachers give each other feedback using video. Teachers upload a film of their own teaching and then invite others on the network to respond and give advice. Brustein continues to talk about the spirit of entrepreneurship found in the Bay area and the experience she had at Imagine K12.
Are you an entrepreneur interested in attending Imagine K12? Do you want to learn more about how to access your user base and attract the attention of investors? Be sure to apply now for the Winter 2013 program which runs from January to April. The deadline is October 29, so apply now.