Editor’s Note: This post has first been published on edcetera – straight talk on edtech.
LearnLaunchX, the Boston based edtech accelerator announced the seven startups that will take part in this year’s Winter cohort. The startups receive up to $18k in seed funding, free workspace for up to six months, access to the LearnLaunchX mentors and other perks.
The goal of the accelerator is to bring these early-stage startups to a point where they have validated their business model and are therefore be attractive to investors. The demo day of the winter cohort is set for May 2014.
Brooklyn-based Book&Table is an online marketplace for personalized one-on-one mastery-based courses. Personalized learning was one of the hot verticals before the MOOC hype and seems to have a strong comeback this year as the recent acquisitions of Engrade and Area9 by McGraw-Hill Education show.
Through Book&Table tutors from around the globe can offer personalized curricula that are adapted to each individual learner’s needs including personal schedules and objectives.
The idea sounds quite intriguing but being a recovering one-on-one tutor myself I have a lot of questions and, I admit it, a lot of doubt about the startup’s business model.
This is a pitch I hear every six months. Take a virtual tour of a campus before you send your application.
As I haven’t heard of a startup in that particular vertical that actually made it to the next step after concept stage I’d say that there is either not enough interest from the student side or it is simply just a feature that makes sense as part of a bigger platform.
A Boston-based startup that aims to create a peer-to-peer learning platform for math problem solving targeting students in grades 4-12. The first product of CueThink is an iPad application that encourages a mindset of thinking and learning from mistakes.
Like personalized and adaptive learning, peer-to-peer learning is an interesting vertical in edtech at the moment. The app seems to get good ratings from students who have used it so there might be some potential in this startup.
Hstry is a startup out of Belgium and I briefly met the team at Bett Show back in January. As the name suggests, Hstry is about historic events. Students and teachers can create interactive timelines using PCs, laptops and tablet devices.
The core, again, is peer learning and collaboration between students and the teacher. There are features that encourage discussion and enable teachers to give instant feedback. And of course the app gives the teachers access to data like learning progress and other analytics.
Another startup out of Boston. QuadWrangle is kind of a vertical CRM system and social media analytics platform for alumni engagement. Schools can measure the impact of the content they share, how do alumni respond, engage and what are they funding.
QuadWrangle offers a mobile platform for alumni that updates them with personalized content from their alma mater and fellow alumni.
Though LinkedIn entered the market last year with the launch of University Pages, QuadWrangle adds some pretty interesting features to the mix. Of course, the engagement will only be as good as the people who produce and share the content but this could be a winner in my book.
Skaffl from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is also developing apps. The team’s first app Braket is also designed for the “iPad classroom” and enables teachers to distribute and collect assignments digitally. Everything stays within the app, reminders, analytics and an editor are included.
As Skaffl’s tagline reads “apps that simplify the mobile classroom” I suppose that the team plans a suite of different apps that all connect to a centralized database or an existing LMS.
Yet another startup out of Boston, uConnect offers colleges and universities new ways to manage and promote their career services.
This startup clearly reminds me of Uversity, formerly Inigral, which has had some success with their platform first on Facebook and now spreading into the open Internet. Also like QuadWrangle there are aspects that LinkedIn covers with its University Pages product, hence there is already some competition out there. On the other hand, this could also be a sign for a market opportunity.
This cohort is an interesting mix with some fairly promising startups like QuadWrangle and potentially Hstry and some I have more doubt about like Campusscene or Book&Table. I am also quite sceptical about the heavy reliance on the “iPad classroom” from startups like CueThink and Skaffl. There has been more than one backlash, already and Chromebooks are also in the upswing at the moment.
Therefore, my ranking based on their pitches and what I can see from their webpages:
- Skaffl, CueThink