10 Edutech Startup Founders
Only a decade or so ago, technology in the classroom started and stopped at a table near the back with a desktop computer on it. These days, between online schools and BYOD initiatives on traditional campuses, education technology has clearly come a long way from the 30-pound box of hardware with the 9600 baud modem. It took a furious tide of ambitious edutech startups, led by singular visionaries and cohesive teams, to bring us this far. Let's take a look at 10 founders and co-founders behind today's newish offerings in edutech, in alphabetical order:
10 Names to Remember in the World of Edutech
Adam Geller is a certified teacher and co-founder of Edthena, a video-driven observation and coaching tool for teachers. In-person observation and coaching have long been a part of teacher-improvement initiatives, but the low-tech model uses time and personnel resources that schools or districts may not have. Edthena allows teachers to record their classrooms, upload the videos and receive feedback synchronized in time to the events it references. Geller is also the founder of Teach For Us, a blogging platform for Teach for America teachers, and was named a 2011 Education Ventures fellow by the Kauffman Foundation.
Anthony Wu of LearnSprout believes in open data. He co-founded LearnSprout with friends Joe Woo (COO) and Franklyn Chien (CEO) to help make education data universally accessible, transparent and secure while enabling the simple connection of online apps and full stack software to a district or school's existing data infrastructure. Wu is an ex-Googler who worked as a tech lead at YouTube and whose focus on the user experience and real-world application of computer science, revealed on his website, likely finds itself right at home in the world of edutech startups.
Daphne Koller is a name you're likely to know if you know any names in edutech. This Stanford professor of computer science co-founded Coursera, one of the leading companies in the MOOC revolution with nearly 400 courses from more than 80 partner institutions and serving almost 4 million students worldwide. Koller has authored over 200 refereed papers and given keynote speeches at numerous conferences on multiple subjects. She has won awards for her research as well as for her teaching, and she also founded CURIS, a summer internship program for Stanford's computer science undergraduates.
Fahad Hassan is the solo founder of Always Prepped, another weapon in the ongoing battle against data problems in education. The tool allows teachers to collect multiple elements of students' classroom performance onto a centralized dashboard, aggregating multiple online teaching tools into a single data portal. Hassan has launched edutech startups in the past, such as the CRM and text-message platform Daylert, designed for graduation-focused college students, and aims to generate positive social impact with his edutech innovations.
Jeremy Johnson is co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of 2U, a tech platform that addresses the multiple needs of traditional campuses looking to make their name as online schools. 2U helps provide universities with initial capital investment as well as the infrastructure necessary to deliver high-quality education in the virtual classroom. Johnson is a longtime education entrepreneur and startup junkie who founded his first tech company at 15. He attended Princeton University, serves on the board of the Young Entrepreneur Council and provides angel investment and advice to select tech endeavors in the U.S.
Nancy MacIntyre founded Fingerprint, a startup offering multiplayer educational gaming and safe social features for kids. The bright and colorful platform for both tablet and mobile devices features apps based on popular children's properties such as VeggieTales®, Caillou and Franklin & Friends as well as alphabet, number and language games to help kids learn fundamentals. MacIntyre previously worked at LeapFrog, LucasArts and Hasbro and has helped to launch more than 100 games in her career.
Nic Borg is co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Edmodo, a tool designed to combine the needs of teachers with the advantages of a social network. Borg and his co-founder Jeff O'Hara have created a virtual environment where teachers can gamify their lesson plans and connect with other instructors, students, parents, administrators and publishers to produce a well-rounded, globally-informed classroom approach. Borg worked in secondary education for seven years before helping to launch Edmodo, which reached more than 20 million teachers and students and continues to grow.
Sam Chaudhary, co-founder of ClassDojo, helped create a way to use edutech to address one of the most pressing problems in any classroom. With ClassDojo, teachers can manage student behavior in classrooms by awarding points in real time. It's customizable and device-flexible and also allows teachers to provide feedback to students at lightning speed. Chaudhary holds a BA in Economics from the University of Cambridge and previously worked as a business analyst and an economics teacher. ClassDojo is his first startup.
Samantha John is co-founder and CTO of Hopscotch, a UI-driven, syntax-free code parser that can help teach kids what it feels like to program computer games. Using the iPad and a friendly touch-screen interface, Hopscotch is touted as an effective way to introduce young students, especially girls, to computer science. John is a Columbia graduate with a degree in applied mathematics and has developed several data tools in the past, including an app that combined Twitter with Internet TV that was recognized at a Samsung competition in 2010.
Tyler Bosmeny helped found an edutech company that enables schools to more easily use modern, app-driven technology in the classroom. Clever, Bosmeny's first startup, is a digital information hub that allows schools and districts to make just about any classroom software work with the data that's relevant to them. The service was named "Most Innovative Company" by the Software & Information Industry Association, and Bosmeny and his team won first place at the SXSWedu LAUNCHedu competition in 2013. Bosmeny holds a BA in Applied Mathmatics and an MA in Statistics from Harvard.
Here's to the future
Founders of edutech startups tend not to stay in the same place for long, and more and more hot new stars are emerging every day from the ranks, so keep your eyes peeled for dramatic new movements in the field as technology in the classroom continues to grow. The next fresh, powerful, world-changing innovator might even be working right now at a school near you.