Triangle Startup Weekend is back, and the focus is on transforming public education.
Tonight, organizers will welcome more than 80 participants to NC State’s Hunt Library, to launch Triangle Startup Weekend: Education (.http://www.up.co/communities/usa/triangle/startup-weekend/3885)
“Every student deserves a quality education, but our current system isn’t meeting their needs” said event co-organizer Jason H. Parker, “if we’re going to best prepare our sons and daughters for college and career success, we must disrupt the industry to identify innovative solutions to education’s greatest challenges.”
The forty-eight hour design-thinking workshop offers educators, developers, designers, and entrepreneurs the chance to get hands-on experience, network with other visionaries, and find out if their startup ideas are viable.
“Our aim is to prepare educators and entrepreneurs to create the transformative change required in education,” said Parker, “where participants pitch innovative ideas, build teams across disciplines, prototype products and solutions, and present to a panel of education, entrepreneurial, and civic leaders, SharkTank style.”
Organizers will welcome participants at 5:30 PM, serve dinner, provide opportunities for networking, and then jump into company-building action.
“We kick off each Startup Weekend with an open pitch session,” said Archana Gowda, a co-organizer of the event and trained Startup Weekend facilitator, “it’s a great celebration of the innovation and enthusiasm in the community.”
After pitching on Friday, participants use design-thinking principles to determine the most viable ideas and build teams to develop working prototypes.
“We’ll see roughly a dozen new companies start in 48 hours,” said co-organizer Mital Patel, “many that will continue to work on their project, idea, and startup after the event ends.”
The winning company from the most recent Triangle Startup Weekend: Education event, Trinket, was recently accepted into the prestigious education incubator Imagine K12.
“It’s been amazing,” said Elliot Hauser, CEO of Trinket, and one of the first people to pitch an idea from stage at the last event. The journey that started on stage has led to early traction.
“Their companies have raised the rounds and have the traction that we’re aiming for, so it’s valuable to have access to that network,” said Hauser.
And the company continues to stay involved in the event that brought them together. Brian Marks, Trinket’s co-founder and CTO, joined Elliott in launching the company and is slotted to serve as one of more than a dozen startup coaches throughout the weekend.
The event has attracted notoriety in the last weeks, with sponsorships from Wyrick Robbins, The Ironyard, and Windsor Circle. Both startups are providing scholarships for educators to attend the event at no charge.
“Participating in and winning Triangle Startup Weekend helped me build many of the local networks that are still relevant to me today,” said Andrew Pearson, the vice president of marketing at Windsor Circle. “The event opened doors for me.” Pearson won a Startup Weekend with YardSprout in 2011.
“We’ve got a truly incredible event,” said Mital Patel, who has organized more than a half dozen Triangle Startup Weekends. “Participants will be coached and judged by the Triangle’s most innovative education disrupters—and build products that impact students.”
Teams will evaluated on four criteria: educational impact, or the ability for the product or team to realistically address or solve a major problem in an educational sector; customer validation, or the proof that there is a market for the business or product; business model, or the demonstration that the business could be sustainable based on its inputs; and the execution of technology and design of product, or the viability of bringing a functional prototype to market.
Teams are evaluated by a team of experienced judges:
· Alisa Herr, Chief Technology Officer at EducationNC;
· Elaine Franklin, Director of the Kenan Fellows Program at the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science at NC State University;
· Holly Fulp, Director at William Blair;
· Keith Sawyer, the Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations at UNC-Chapel Hill; and
· A “mystery” judge that organizers have not yet announced.
The event culminates on Sunday afternoon, when teams reconvene to present their ideas and pitch their products. Bonner Gaylord, Raleigh City Councilor and chair of the Technology and Communications Committee, will open Sunday’s Demo Day with a brief speech on the importance of innovation and technology in education.
“If you’re considering launching a startup, if you believe that technology and innovation can solve problems in education, and if you want to be a part of the transformative change of education in our region and our country,” said Jason H. Parker, “you’ll want to participate in Triangle Startup Weekend: Education.”
Tickets will be available online and at the event venue until 6:30 PM. Student pricing is available, and WRAL Tech Wire Insiders can receive 10% off registration using code “WRALinsider” at registration. (Details: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/triangle-startup-weekend-education-tickets-11472607879)
Don’t want to commit to the entire weekend, but still want a taste of the event? Organizers have made a limited number of tickets to the Opening Night and to Sunday’s Demo Day—tickets are first-come, first-serve.