Techcrunch: Edtech investment jumps past half billion in Q1 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Crunching the numbers, Techcrunch reports that investment in edtech startups is more than $500 million in Q1 already. That's the "single biggest quarter for capital committed to the sector in the past five years," writes Jonathan Sheiber.

What's fueling the interest in this "old school" sector? Kaplan EdTech Accelerator managing director Don Burton (with Kaplan's program partner Techstars) explains:
“It’s interesting because public education hasn’t changed that much in 150 to 200 years and there had been almost no technology going into it. It’s not only that there’s this huge behemoth sector of the economy that spends $1.2 trillion on educating kids, but that it’s old, it’s long in the tooth and it’s bound to get disrupted.”
Sheiber explains that investment falls in a few areas: technologies for K-12 and for secondary education, professional and continuing education services, and consumer-facing products.

"Investors now are backing companies that are making a massive push to sell directly into the U.S. public and private education system. Expenditures in K-12 software is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the market,” Jonathan writes.

Read Jonathan's full story, "Education Technology Startups Raised Over Half A Billion Dollars In Q1," on Techcrunch (3/24/14).


Coming to a city near you: the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator Roadshow kicks off on April 1st

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meet the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator team
in London, April 1st!

The Accelerator(ers) hit the road next month, looking to meet ed-tech entrepreneurs and startups interested in signing up for the next class of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by Techstars.

The Summer 2014 program will happen in New York City, beginning in July; applications are due in May.

The team will include folks from Kaplan and Techstars, ready to share more about the program, meet some awesome founders, and answer all your questions. Just click the city name to sign up.

The road shows kick off in London, England on Tuesday, April 1st, beginning 6:00 pm at The Escalator - The Innovation Loft.

Then it's on to New York City (April 7th), Washington, DC (April 8th), Seattle (April 14th), and San Francisco (April 15th).

Next up is the ASU/GSV Education Innovation Summit in Phoenix, where they'll hold open office hours at the conference on April 21st. They'll also be on Harvard Business School's Boston campus for an event on April 25th, and in Toronto, on the X, on April 28th. Sign up for Phoenix, Boston, or Toronto open office hours here. (These links lead to a Google calendar; find the date and city you're interested in and book a 20-minute appointment.)

Fast Company: Kaplan is a top 10 education innovator

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kaplan's launch last year with Techstars of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator was cited among the many reasons the company is among the most innovative education companies in the world, so say the folks at Fast Company (and they should know, 'cause they cover this stuff alot).

Here's what Peg Tyre writes in the 2014 Most Innovative Companies issue:
For testing and prepping students for the new era of education. The 75-year-old industry stalwart might have started as a test-prep company, but it continues to evolve to keep pace with students' changing learning habits--and the changing job market. It's wholly embracing and developing new techcentric curriculums: Last year, it launched a pilot program at its university's School of Information Technology, which used the gamification platform Badgeville to boost participating students grades by 9%, graduated the inaugural class of its Techstars-powered education startup accelerator, launched a bootcamp for aspiring Ruby on Rails web developers, and--in its most strategic, and perhaps preemptive, move--acquired Grockit, the notable online test-prep service that recently logged on its one millionth user.

READ the entire article, "The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Education," at Fast Company.

CNNMoney: How Flinja's connecting students with paid freelance work

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Yep. Unpaid internships are a great way for college students to get the work-ready skills they'll need to land that first job or launch a career after graduation.  But there is that (not too small) matter of life and school expenses until then.

Enter Kaplan EdTech Accelerator alum startup Flinja, which is gaining success by connecting students with paid but flexible freelance work, which will also help them on those long-range career goals.

More on that from CNNMoney:
Flinja has signed up 150,000 "freelance ninjas" since its launch in October 2012, tapping into growing demand among students and recent graduates for paid, relevant work experience as an alternative to lowly internships. The site connects students with companies such as Xerox, Kaplan and Yelp. 
Udemy, an online learning platform that uses the site to recruit, said it provided a better caliber of freelance candidate. "The quality of the applicants on Flinja has been much better compared to other services I use regularly," said Kasia Mikoluk, content marketer at Udemy.

READ the entire story "Startup taps student demand for paid work" by Alanna Petroff  at CNNMoney.

The San Francisco-based Flinja was part of the inaugural class of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator which ran over three months in summer 2013. Here's founder and CEO Victor Young presenting at Demo Day in September.

EdSurge: Newsela is so s'cool

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ed tech blog EdSurge came out with their list of the 20 most popular teacher tools for 2013 this week and named Accelerator alum Newsela #13, out of more than 350 reviewed this past year.

Newsela is a nifty online tool providing teachers with non-fiction reading materials, automatically leveled to different grade levels, which help prep students for Common Core reading standards.

"Newsela has crafted a partnership with long-time publisher, McClatchy Company. Newspaper writers take a story from a McClatchy paper and rewrite it four times, corresponding to a total of five Lexile levels of difficulty."

READ the full list "Counting Down the Top S'Cool Tools for 2013: #11-20," by EdSurge's Mary Jo Madda. 

BusinessInsider: Ranku ranks as a top 2013 startup

Monday, December 9, 2013

The year's end means year-end "best of" lists.  So, let the rankings begin...

Silicon Alley-based BusinessInsider named Kaplan EdTech Accelerator alum Ranku among its "Top 18" best startups for the year. To make the list, a company has to have "growth, promise, VC interest, and actual revenue."

What made Ranku, which aims to Yelp-ify the online college degree search process, a standout?

Says BI's Megan Rose Dickey:
Back in September, prolific investor and billionaire Mark Cuban led a $500,000 seed round in Kim Taylor's online education startup Ranku. Taylor was a co-star on Bravo's "Start-Ups: Silicon Valley" reality TV show last fall, which got canceled after the first season.
In June, Taylor and her team from Ranku joined the inaugural class of the Kaplan EdTech accelerator, sponsored by TechStars.
Ranku aims to make it simple for curious, knowledge-seeking individuals to find the best online degree program from top-notch universities.
For Ranku, the "best" school isn't necessarily the one with the highest ranking on the U.S. News and World Report list. Instead, the best schools in Ranku's lists are the ones that give students great job outcomes.

The Ranku Team  (Courtesy: Ranku, via BI)

READ the full list "The 18 Best Startups That Launched In 2013," at BusinessInsider.

EdSurge: Newsela Raises $1.2 M

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Accelerator alum Newsela, the NYC-based startup that helps teach reading with news articles scaled at different skill levels, just reported a $1.2 million seed round led by NewSchools Venture Fund, with participation by Kaplan Ventures, among others.

Newsela was part of the inaugural Kaplan EdTech Accelerator that ran this summer.

From EdSurge:
Since its beta launch three months ago, the company has seen "ridiculously explosive growth," in the words of co-founder and CEO, Matthew Gross. Newsela has registered users in all 50 states and 60 countries. Gross is keeping mum on the exact user numbers but did share that "right now we have 400 teachers and 3,000 students signing up every day."