Smart Cities: Los Angeles Startup Weekend EDU 1/24

“LA has a rapidly growing entrepreneurial community, with a patchwork of educational technologists and do-gooders. However, up until now the community has been relatively quiet,” but that’s changing say the organizers of StartupWeekend EDU.
Last year, my Smart Cities: LA post complained about the lack of “innovation and collaboration” in the city, but things are more interesting a year later. The first Startup Weekend EDU in the City of Angels will take place on the weekend of January 24th at UCLA Anderson.

Acceleration. The StartupWeekend event reflects an uptick in incubator and accelerator business and entrepreneurial support over the last year including:

  • Amplify LA is a hands-on startup accelerator and multi-faceted entrepreneurial campus (@AmplifyLA).
  • Launchpad LA is a startup accelerator and mentorship program offering $100k, a huge network, free office space and lots of perks (@LaunchpadLA).
  • StartEngine is Howard Marks’ rapid accelerator focused on helping Los Angeles-based technology startups build a solid foundation for success in 90 days.
  • Cross Campus (@CrossCampusLA) and CoLoft (@CoLoft) are coworking spaces in Santa Monica.
  • General Assembly LA offers the best in startup, design, and tech learning (@GA_LA).
  • ProSky helps young people arrange project-based internships (projectship) to expand their experience base and boost employability.

EdTech. The SoCal breakout EdTech successes include:

  • Engrade is a standards-based gradebook with a suite of classroom management tools used by more than 400,000 teachers. Engrade is backed by Rethink Education, New Schools, and Greg Gunn.
  • Nonprofit MIND Research Institute is based in Orange County and provider of engaging visual elementary math programs. ST Math instructional software has doubles annual growth in math proficiency at schools where it is implemented. The visual-based ST Math played a pivotal role in closing the achievement gap between its 76 percent English Language Learners and native English speaker in Santa Ana, where MIND has seen the most longitudinal data. The 36 elementary schools in Santa Ana Unified School District went from 32 percent of students proficient in math to meeting the statewide average of 67 percent proficiency in 2012. District wide deployment of ST Math in Anaheim helped boost math proficiency from 39 percent to 63 percent. The 35 LAUSD schools that fully implemented ST Math K-5 boosted math proficiency by 12 points. ST Math was historically used in a computer lab but the new iPad version is popular in a class rotation model.

EdTech achieving some scale include:

  • Flinja is the nation’s’ largest college centric marketplace where students can get the experience they need, and employers can test before hiring full time. Flinja is the Uber for Work (@FlinjaWorld). They got their start through LA’s StartEngine before moving on Kaplan TechStars in NY. LA remains a home base for their founder and CEO Victor Young.
  • GameDesk – GameDesk was created to develop a “next generation” model of education, revolutionizing the way we teach and learn. They are a research, game development, and outreach organization that has evolved out of seven years of research at the University of Southern California.
  • Woogi World is a game-based primary digital literacy program claiming 1 million subscribers.
  • cielo24: a provider of high quality, searchable metadata including indexes, transcripts and captions, including for all of the leading online education companies.
  • StudySoup, a browser based, interactive course material platform built for the world of education. They also got their start in LA with their founder’s studies at UC Santa Barbara and their team is split between LA, Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

You can learn to play music with two LA startups:

  • Chromatik is a Santa Monica startup that is redefining how people practice, perform, and learn music. The iPad app let you upload, record, and share music (@Chromatikmusik).
  • Miso Media teaches anyone to play the guitar. Maybe you saw Miso on Shark Tank (@misomedia).

A couple of the SoCal EdTech startups on include:

  • is the student loan platform (@TuitionIO).
  • GetBonkers is a game development studio that is focused on making fun and engaging mobile applications for all ages (@LetsGetBonkers).
  • Piglt is a crowdsourced effort to deal with college cost/debt.
  • RECESS is inspiring the next generation of world-changing entrepreneurs through innovative online content and a nationwide campus concert tour (@RECESS).
  • TestMax offers comprehensive iOS test prep for the Bar, LSAT, and SAT.

More in January. If you’re anywhere near LA the last weekend of January, check out StartupWeekend EDU.
MIND Research is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner. Tom is a board member for Imagination Foundation. Chromatik and General Assembly are portfolio companies of  Learn Capital where Tom is a partner. 

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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