San Francisco Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend holds 54 hour entrepreneurial boot camps around the world.  The San Francicso Startup this weekend was focused on education and was hosted (generously and proficiently) by Grockit.  I joined execs from Facebook, Google, and Founder Institute as a judge of the 13 teams that spent Sunday finalizing a venture pitch.
The first prize went to Demo Lesson, a video resume for teachers that will allow schools expanded ability to identify teachers that are a good fit.
The tie for second place went to a college completion tool that monitors every step of the process and a coding competition platform that makes it easy to host competitions (which could be used far more broadly than just computer science).
The judges were excited about a plan for an education app store that Dr. Charles Severance pitched.
Two of the more interesting ideas to emerge included a recommendation engine for family field trips, and a career awareness system with missions and badges.
Other teams focused on school fundraising, math tutoring, language acquisition, and a social learning log.
The Startup format is inspiring and supportive.  A few teams worked most of Saturday night building beta sites and polishing their pitch. The 13 teams benefited from mentors from charter networks, venture funds, and successful startups.  Tonight had all the ingredients that make American great—a chance to make a difference, a chance to make a fortune, a chance to imagine a better future.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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