41 minutes | Jul 9, 2021
Chrisman Frank, CEO of Synthesis, on his sacred obligation to students
On this episode of the EdTech Startup Show, my guest is Chrisman Frank, CEO and co-founder of Synthesis School. Synthesis is an enrichment club that teaches complex problem-solving and decision-making for kids 7 to 14 through online team games. Chrisman's cofounder Josh Dahn developed the Synthesis concept while running Ad Astra, a small lab school he built for Elon Musk on the SpaceX campus. Before Synthesis, Chrisman was engineer #1 at ClassDojo, a K-12 network that reaches ~30 million teachers, students, and families every month. Connect with Chrisman on Twitter @chrismanfrank and read his essays at www.ChrismanFrank.com. Learn more about EdTech Startup Show host Gerard Dawson at www.GerardDawson.com, or find the podcast on your favorite podcast player here: https://linktr.ee/gerarddawson.
50 minutes | Jan 7, 2021
Kelly Smith, CEO of Prenda, on the microschool movement
Today's guest on the EdTech Startup Show is Kelly Smith, founder and CEO of Prenda. Prenda helps create flexible learning environments known as microschools. Often described as the “reinvention of the one-room school house,” microschools combine homeschooling, online education, smaller class sizes, mixed age-level groupings, flipped classrooms, and personalized learning.
50 minutes | Dec 17, 2020
Fullstack Academy co-CEOs Nimit Maru and David Yang on the evolution of coding education
Today's guests on the EdTech Startup Show are Nimit Maru and David Yang, co-CEOs of Fullstack Academy. Fullstack Academy is an innovative software development school with campuses in NYC and Chicago. Fullstack has graduated thousands of students working across every part of the technology ecosystem from first funding to FANG-sized. Fullstack also created the "Grace Hopper Program" - the first deferred-tuition coding bootcamp for women.
10 minutes | Dec 10, 2020
Why the "education market" isn't real
This episode is an excerpt from The 5-Day Copy Fix, a free course on marketing your education product or service to decision makers. To download it, visit https://www.gerarddawson.com/free-course/.
45 minutes | Nov 29, 2020
Zachary Silverzweig, founder of Tiny Ivy, on getting traction for his second startup and re-inventing the way kids learn to read
Today's guest on the EdTech Startup Show is Zachary Silverzweig, founder of Tiny Ivy. Tiny Ivy is working to close the achievement gap in literacy, leveraging their unique approach to teaching English called TIPS™. Zach is a seasoned startup executive with a history of developing innovative products that drive social good.
12 minutes | Nov 24, 2020
I quit my teaching job (and here's what happened...)
No interview with an EdTech CEO or founder today. Instead, this is a personal update on my career. Connect with me: https://www.GerardDawson.com On Twitter On LinkedIn
32 minutes | Nov 18, 2020
Sara Mauskopf, CEO & co-founder of Winnie, on building a marketplace for childcare
Today's guest on the EdTech Startup Show is Sara Mauskopf. Sara is the CEO and co-founder of Winnie, a marketplace for daycare and preschool helping over 4 million parents across the United States. Sara has a background in consumer technology and product management. Prior to founding Winnie she held product leadership roles at Postmates, Twitter, YouTube, and Google. She graduated with a Computer Science and Engineering degree from MIT. Sara lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. To access this episode's bonus clip, where Sara shares her lessons learned building a marketplace, join The Business of Learning Letter.
33 minutes | Nov 10, 2020
Megan O'Connor, EIR at Kaplan, on the EdTech Super Bowl and Carving Linear Paths to Jobs for Students
Today's guest on the EdTech Startup Show is Megan O'Connor. Megan O’Connor is serving as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Kaplan, one of the world’s largest and most diversified educational services providers. She is currently spearheading development of Kaplan’s new Boost program, designed for pre-college students to help bridge the gap between the college experience and work readiness. Prior to joining Kaplan, Megan founded, led and sold Clark, a provider of end-to-end operation software, education services and coaching for teachers who want to grow their tutoring business. Before Clark, Megan was a founding partner of New York-based startup studio Human Ventures and Director of Development at the nonprofit Pencils of Promise. She has an MPA from NYU's Wagner School of Public Service and a BA from Santa Clara University.
41 minutes | Nov 1, 2020
Austen Allred, CEO of Lambda School, on the future of K12, scaling online teaching, and $50K raises
This episode is brought to you by Trends.co, which is one of the only sources I read to learn about what's going to happen next in the world of business, tech and startups. The community has also given me what I'd call a free-MBA's worth of insights. Get $100 off your subscription to Trends using this link. Today's guest on the EdTech Startup Show is Austen Allred. Austen Allred is the co-founder and CEO of Lambda School. A native of Springville, Utah, Austen’s start-up journey began in 2017 with him living in his two-door Civic while participating in Y Combinator, a San Francisco-based seed accelerator. This experience became the foundation of Lambda School’s rapid growth. Before founding Lambda School, Austen was the co-founder of media platform GrassWire. He co-authored the growth hacking textbook Secret Sauce, which became a best-seller and provided him the personal seed money to build Lambda. Austen’s disruptive ideas on the future of education, the labor market disconnect, and the opportunity of providing opportunity at-scale have been featured in: The Harvard Business Review, The Economist, WIRED, Fast Company, TechCrunch, The New York Times, among others. Austen is fluent in Russian and currently lives in San Francisco with his wife and two kids. You can find him on Twitter @Austen.
50 minutes | Oct 27, 2020
Shawn Young, CEO of Classcraft, on Ready Player One, motivation, and gaming in education
Shawn Young is the co-founder and CEO of Classcraft, the Engagement Management System for schools. Since its launch, Classcraft has gained traction with educators worldwide, providing tools to gamify their classrooms. Shawn taught 11th-grade physics for nine years, holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in education from Université de Sherbrooke and is also a seasoned web developer. The Great Exchange Student Engagement Summit, hosted by Classcraft and Google for Education, happens October 29. Learn more here. To download this episode's bonus clip, sign up for The Business of Learning member library.
43 minutes | Sep 26, 2020
Jamie Poskin, founder of TeachFX, on automating teacher feedback, machine learning, experimental theater and more
To hear this episode's bonus clip, where Jamie explains TeachFX's bottom-up strategy for implementation, subscribe to the Business of Learning Letter. Jamie Poskin is the founder and executive director of TeachFX. Jamie is a former high school math and English teacher, coach, and athletic director with an MA in Education and MBA from Stanford. He also spent seven years working as an experimental theater artist with The Wooster Group and as the director of his own company. TeachFX’s mission is to promote more meaningful and equitable classroom dialogue by superpowering teachers’ work — using technology to provide educators with regular, automated feedback on their practice.
44 minutes | Jul 24, 2020
Sara Potler LaHayne, CEO of Move This World, on social-emotional wellness in times of crisis
Don’t miss Sara’s exclusive clip for Business of Learning Subscribers. Sarah answers What have you learned about proving the efficacy of an EdTech product? Sign up here for access. Today’s guest on The EdTech Startup Show Podcast is Sara Potler LaHayne, Founder and CEO of Move This World. Move This World strengthens the mental, emotional, and social well-being of Pre-K to 12th grade students, educators, and families by building a daily practice of identifying, expressing, and managing our emotions in healthy ways. The learning program has impacted over a million students across 30 states for more than 13 years. In addition to projecting the strategic and creative vision and direction of the organization, Sara is an advocate for mental health and social-emotional wellness for all children. Move This World was largely conceived out of Sara’s own experiences growing up. It is this personal quality that defines the program’s unique approach to learning: Parents and teachers are encouraged to practice Social-Emotional Learning in their own lives; the program is continuously updated as it adapts to the ever-evolving realities of its end-users; and SEL is taught to become an ubiquitous part of schools’ learning cultures. Questions for Sara Potler LaHayne What is the vision-mission of Move This World? How does Sara help teachers with Social-Emotional Learning? How did Sara’s background lead to the founding of Move This World? What can teachers do to incorporate SEL in remote or hybrid learning environments amid social distancing measures? What are some great resources to learn more about SEL? How do educators and school district leaders currently view SEL programs compared to a few years ago? How can a school make SEL an ubiquitous part of their learning culture? What can teachers and parents do to prepare their children to go back to school? What has Sara learned through the years about the efficacy of an SEL program? Highlights from the conversation Those who apply SEL strategies in their own lives become more effective teachers in the classroom Beyond allying yourself with mentors and advisors in your subject matter, work with builders and creators who have taken their ideas and made them real COVID-19 made parents and teachers realize that resources and exercises must be as easy as possible to use Two of the key components of the Move This World approach is the validation of thoughts, perspectives, and experiences; and making time for processing and reflection. Satisfaction, engagement, and usage, though important for the end-user, does not mean efficacy. Impact is the key. Important links from this episode Move This World Move This World's COVID-19 Resource Center Email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you liked this episode, then please Subscribe to The EdTech Startup Show in your favorite podcast player Leave a rating. Write an honest review of the show. Share it with an educator, parents, or entrepreneur in your life. Send your feedback to Gerard Dawson on Twitter or LinkedIn Want to hear from other entrepreneurs focused on social-emotional learning? Ami Shah, CEO & Founder of Peekapak Matthew Gross, CEO & Founder of Newsela
44 minutes | Jul 16, 2020
Gamifying College Readiness with CR SCORE founders Joel & Ryall
Don't miss Joel and Ryall's exclusive clip for Business of Learning Letter subscribers. Subscribe here for free access. Today’s guests on The EdTech Startup Show Podcast are CR SCORE founders Ryall Carroll and Joel Weingarten. CR SCORE aims to solve two problems, namely, the uncertainty around college readiness, and the overmatching and under-matching problem that students of varying backgrounds tend to face during their preparations. Ryall and Joel aim to provide students with positive reinforcement by using a score to make college readiness a fun experience. As a companion piece to the score, students will also receive personalized recommendations on how to incrementally improve their college readiness. A largely bootstrapped venture, the idea for CR SCORE came to fruition as a result of its founders’ lean approach to business. Together, Ryall and Joel successfully created an app that effectively engages high school students with its mobile-friendly design and gamified features. Questions for Ryall Carroll and Joel Weingarten What is CR SCORE all about and how do Ryall and Joel divide their responsibilities? Why did Ryall and Joel decide to establish CR SCORE? What components go into CR SCORE and how are they measured? What are some of Ryall and Joel’s takeaways from interacting with their stakeholders (ex. students, parents, counselors, administrators, etc.)? Which features did Ryall and Joel have to scrap due to early feedback? How will CR SCORE adapt to the ever-evolving college landscape? What sort of conversations should more parents be having with their kids? What is it like running a business based largely around a mobile app? Highlights from the conversation Gamification can make any otherwise mundane process more fun and engaging Ryall and Joel relied on Lean Startup and design-centered principles to “bootstrap” CR SCORE. Don’t hesitate to make use of surveys and other tools when developing your product, since most people are willing to provide feedback. Brand-name colleges aren’t always the best colleges for a particular student. As digital natives, high school-aged kids are best engaged via mobile apps Important links from this episode CR SCORE College and Career Ready Standards Ryall Carroll at St. John’s University Pell Grants Credit Guru 2019 College Admissions Bribery Scandal University of Michigan Georgetown University Gamification Amazon Mechanical Turk FAFSA If you liked this episode, then please: Subscribe to The EdTech Startup Show in your favorite podcast player Leave a rating. Write an honest review of the show. Share it with an educator, parents, or entrepreneur in your life. Send your feedback to Gerard Dawson on Twitter or LinkedIn Don’t miss Joel and Ryall share advice and experience building a mobile-first EdTech company. Only available in this week’s Business of Learning Member Library clip. It's free. Get access here.
53 minutes | Jul 9, 2020
Rebecca Sadwick: a Go-to-Market Masterclass for Startups
Don't miss Rebecca's exclusive clip for Business of Learning Letter subscribers. To watch the short video of Rebecca answering "What are you top 2-3 tips for hiring in EdTech?" Sign up here. ### Today’s guest on The EdTech Startup Show is Rebecca Sadwick, startup advisor, go-to-market strategy consultant, and the founder of Strategica Partners. Rebecca’s track record of helping tech companies develop actionable customer insights to drive growth and go-to-market strategies has been recognized by Inc. 5000, Forbes, and the Los Angeles Business Journal. By actively mitigating assumptions and emphasizing first principles thinking, each strategy and brand Rebecca develops has a fresh advantage, while leveraging the depth of experience that comes from working with diverse tech clients across all industries. Through radical open mindedness and responsiveness to companies' unique needs, Rebecca elevates brand identities that users internalize and advocate for. Questions for Rebecca Sadwick What is Rebecca’s background and her current projects? How did Rebecca ease into a role that was filled with uncertainties? What is “go-to-market strategy”? Should a startup dominate a niche market or capitalize on existing momentum? How can you, as an entrepreneur, hone in on a need that you can potentially turn into a business? What are Rebecca’s favorite resources for learning more about business? How should you go about choosing marketing channels? Why should market research come before product research? What makes a good partnership? What are some best practices around the hiring process? Highlights from my conversation with Rebecca Sadwick Go-to-market strategy basically revolves around getting “people who can benefit from the product to know about it and want to buy it.” Long-term momentum should be one of the first and most important considerations of a startup. Positioning should be the core of your marketing strategy. When creating a product, always remember that when something needs explanation, you’ve already lost. Let the market dictate how they like to buy. Partnerships are not a substitute for other direct strategies. Quantitative data can drive worse decisions than a lack of data altogether. Important links from this episode Reforge Growth Series by Brian Balfour Seth Godin Sean Ellis The Lean Startup by Eric Ries Rebecca Sadwick on Twitter If you liked this episode, then please Subscribe to The EdTech Startup Show in your favorite podcast player Leave a rating for the show on iTunes. Write an honest review of the show. Share it with an educator, parent, or entrepreneur in your life. Send your feedback to Gerard Dawson on Twitter or LinkedIn
47 minutes | Jul 1, 2020
The Power of Voice for EdTech: Martyn Farrows, COO of SoapBox Labs
Today’s guest on The EdTech Startup Show Podcast is Martyn Farrows, COO of SoapBox Labs. Martyn is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of SoapBox Labs (www.soapboxlabs.com) an award winning deep tech company that specializes in developing voice technology for kids. Proprietary and built from the ground up, SoapBox Labs' accurate, safe and age appropriate voice technology powers immersive play and learning experiences, including literacy and language learning tools, for kids from 2 to 12 years old. Martyn has a Ph.D in European politics and is an experienced public speaker on the topic of children's digital privacy, the future of AI and the use of voice technology in education. Martyn has been a member of the Irish Government’s Data Forum since its inception in June 2015. He was previously Director of the Learnovate Centre, a strategic investment by the Irish government to establish Ireland as a global centre of excellence in learning innovation. Highlights from my conversation with Martyn Farrows: Why voice technology is a great way to foster agency in children Why Martyn considers himself a mix of Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolfe and Winnie the Pooh. Voice as an “enabling technology” How educators can start learning about how to implement voice and AI into their teaching tools Potential future uses of voice technology in literacy and language learning Martyn shares some interesting insights and observations from how SoapBox Labs’ voice technology is being used through their partners How SoapBox Labs deals with concerns and issues around privacy Important links from this episode: SoapBox Labs SoapBox Labs on Twitter SoapBox Labs on LinkedIn Send SoapBox Labs an Email at email@example.com Martyn Farrows on LinkedIn Lingumi Alexa Florida Center for Reading Research Yaacov Petscher Reach Every Reader Project Child Data Citizen Lex Fridman See SoapBox Labs' Voice Technology in Action with Lingumi Want to hear from other entrepreneurs discussing voice tech in education? Philip Cutler - PAPER Bryanne Leeming - Unruly Studios If you liked this episode, then please: Subscribe to The EdTech Startup Show in your favorite podcast player Leave a rating. Write an honest review of the show. Share it with an educator, parents, or entrepreneur in your life. Send your feedback to Gerard Dawson on Twitter or LinkedIn Want more? Join The Business of Learning Letter, and get the only email newsletter written by a teacher on the intersection of business, tech, and education.
55 minutes | Jun 25, 2020
Mike Teng - CEO of Swing Education on Solving Real Problems with EdTech
Today’s guest on the EdTech Startup Show is Mike Teng. Mike Teng is the CEO and co-founder of Swing Education, a tech-enabled marketplace business that matches substitute teachers with schools in need. He was a software engineer in the private sector and then the tech director at a K-12 charter school network. He and two of his friends who are now co-founders saw the need for fill rates of substitute teachers in districts and decided to start Swing education. Swing Education helps schools and districts find and schedule substitute teachers. They have also recently added tutoring with the same teachers in their classrooms. During this episode, Mike and I discuss: How Mike saw a problem with fill rates of substitute teachers with his co-founders who convinced him to leave his nonprofit work to start Swing Education. He explains the challenges they went through getting their software out there and how they navigated the pricing model. The cultural value in education organizations that makes decision making consensus-driven and leads to inefficiency when it comes to sales. He explains how they are trying to capture and utilize the on-demand teachers workforce that exists. How they convince school districts to buy into their program throughout the 50 states. How tutoring has worked for them as an addition to their existing business in a highly competitive space. How to implement investments correctly as a new founder by making the right decision. How empathy learned in parenting translates to good leadership. He explains how to eliminate time spent making phone calls without sacrificing good relationships in a business. Mike encourages people to learn more about the Black Lives Matter social justice movement. Time-stamped questions from this episode: [0:44] Tell me about Swing education and your role there? [2:10] What did you see or notice in terms of statistics, insight, or observation that gave you that spark to think of this as a problem that needs to be solved? [3:40] Was there a period you were doing both technology and Swing education? [6:37] Have you had an assumption or a belief about either the product, the marketing, or how to operate it, that you had to question and then change your mind about? [11:55] What have you learned as a requirement for your business when interacting with districts that you would advise someone on a similar path? [17:29] What do you see about the current status of the idea of an on-demand teacher workforce? [21:17] How do you navigate the teacher’s credentialing process through 50 different states with 50 different education systems? [23:47] How has launching a new area of business been for you? [26:45] Do you see Swing offering tutors to help students during the typical school days? [29:31] What advice do you have for early-stage founders when it comes to fundraising and making good decisions in implementing investments? [33:33] How does your background in engineering affect your leadership? [36:52] What are some people or resources or books that you feel like you’ve learned from in your journey with Swing? [42:06] What is your business processes standpoint in general? [47:17] What is your final suggestion or call to action where people can learn more about you and your business? Links from this episode: Swing education Website: https://swingeducation.com/ Mike’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mpteng Book Mentioned: Hot Seat: The Startup CEO Guidebook by Dan Shapiro Want to hear from other entrepreneurs building EdTech marketplaces? Amir Nathoo - CEO of Outschool Ruben Harris - CEO of Career Karma If you liked this episode, then please: Subscribe to The EdTech Startup Show in your favorite podcast player Leave a rating. Write an honest review of the show. Share it with an educator, parents, or entrepreneur in your life. Send your feedback to Gerard Dawson on Twitter or LinkedIn Want more? Join The Business of Learning Letter, and get the only daily email newsletter, written by a teacher, on the business of education.
17 minutes | May 28, 2020
⚡ Lightning Round ⚡ 10 EdTech Startups Give 1-Minute Pitches!
On this episode of The EdTech Startup Show podcast, you’ll hear 10 one-minute pitches from 10 different companies. As you’re listening, I encourage you to listen for ideas that you find fascinating or useful for yourself or for somebody in your life. I encourage you to explore the websites of these EdTech startups and reach out to them if you’d like to talk more. The 10 EdTech Startups You’ll Hear ClassHook – Easily find educational videos from TV shows and movies to use in your lessons. SpeakAgent – Combine your STEM curriculum with the language needed to master it. Chef Koochooloo – STEAM education with Cooking. CR Score – A college counselor in your pocket. Product Value Solutions – K12 Educational Research and Technology Consulting Machitia – The education for liberation platform. Biochemistry Literacy for Kids – Unlocking the true potential of young learners. Class Composer – an online tool to help elementary schools make better student placement decisions. Transizion – “Conquer college admissions with our help.” Knowledge Avatars – Teach and Learn Intelligently If you liked this episode, then please: Subscribe to The EdTech Startup Show in your favorite podcast player Leave a rating. Write an honest review of the show. Share it with an educator, parents, or entrepreneur in your life. Send your feedback to Gerard Dawson on Twitter or LinkedIn Want more? Join The Business of Learning Letter, and get the only email newsletter, written by a teacher, on the business of education.
52 minutes | May 21, 2020
Bryanne Leeming, CEO of Unruly Studios, on KickStarter, Product Design & Making STEM Fun
Today’s guest on The EdTech Startup Show is Bryanne Leeming. Bryanne is the Founder & CEO of Unruly Studios, and inventor of their award-winning product, Unruly Splats. Unruly Splats engage elementary and middle school students with learning STEM skills and computer science through active recess-style play. Unruly Splats was recently awarded MassTLC's 2019 Digital Transformation in Education. Bryanne has a degree in Cognitive Science from McGill University and an MBA from Babson College. She was named a 2018 Inc Rising Star and a 2019 Boston Business Journal 40 Under 40. Bryanne answered these questions: Can you tell me about what your company does in your own words? And what your role is there? How has your company adapted during COVID-19 school closures? Why combine learning STEM/coding and movement? If you could make a basic STEM curriculum all elementary kids had to learn, what would it include? Do you have any suggested resources, people, books, etc. that helped you develop your perspective on learning? You’ve received investment from the Amazon Alexa fund. What’s your perspective on the role voice-enabled devices will play in education? Are we close to them becoming a regular part of it? What’s a call to action or suggestion you have for listeners? Bryanne also discussed these great stories Lessons learned from running a successful Kickstarter campaign Why and how Unruly has gone through 18+ iterations of their product What Bryanne saw and experienced growing up business-owner parents Bryanne discusses Unruly’s brand, which is a fun, bright contrast to many other EdTech companies. How does she feel about the look and of their product and marketing? And more Links mentioned: Bryanne’s Twitter Unruly Studios Twitter Unruly Studios Company Kickstarter Amazon Alexa Fund MIT Media Lab Murphy’s on the Green, New Hampshire Babson MBA Program GSV Labs Unruly in the House Dr. Amon Millner Want to hear from more Boston-based EdTech entrepreneurs? Kirby Salerno - BroadReach EdTech Advisors Monica Brady-Myerov - Listenwise If you liked this episode, then please: Subscribe to The EdTech Startup Show in your favorite podcast player Leave a rating. Write an honest review of the show. Share it with an educator, parents, or entrepreneur in your life. Send your feedback to Gerard Dawson on Twitter or LinkedIn Want more? Join The Business of Learning Letter, and get the only daily email newsletter, written by a teacher, on the business of education.
48 minutes | May 14, 2020
Lauren Dachille, CEO of Nimble, on Tech for Teacher Hiring
Today's guest on The EdTech Startup Show is Lauren Dachille, CEO of Nimble. Lauren started her career as a member of the Human Capital Team at D.C. Public Schools, where she focused on teacher recruitment and selection. She spent several years working on teacher quality policy across 18 states through the nonprofit StudentsFirst. Lauren founded Nimble in 2016 to help school districts identify and hire high-performing teachers. She received her B.S. in Human Development and Education from Cornell University and her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Nimble is the next generation of K-12 recruitment and hiring software. Our product is an applicant tracking system that leverages AI to save districts time and help them identify and hire the best fit teachers for their classrooms. Founded in 2016, Nimble now serves clients nationwide ranging from small charter school networks to some of the largest urban districts in the country. For more information, visit us at www.hirenimble.com. Links for Nimble: www.hirenimble.com LinkedIn: @hirenimble / @LaurenDachille Twitter: @Nimblek12 / @LaurenDachille Questions Lauren Dachille Answers Can you tell me about what your company does in your own words? And what your role is there? How did your experience in DC schools lead to your work at Nimble? “Predictive technology” is a phrase used often now, but folks don’t always know if it actually means anything. How does Nimble try to predict what teacher candidates will succeed? To follow-up on that, Can you tell me about some of the interesting insights that have been uncovered after looking at the data around teacher hiring? Any surprising correlations or trends? Your company recently published a blog post called “Demo Lessons at Scale in a Virtual Environment.” How are schools handling the hiring process right now? How are you supporting them? I’ve spoken to lots of folks at companies who use a bottom-up approach of getting teacher users then moving onto school and district accounts. Your company is by necessity a district-level sale. What’s your approach for that? What would you tell someone new to sales or marketing at a startup who was taking a similar approach? In your interview on Education Next, you said: “One of the reasons districts aren’t sold yet on the benefits of novel approaches and user-friendly tools is because there are too few companies and founders willing to inject a bit of healthy competition into this space. Products should have to be outstanding to get districts to use them, but unfortunately, there are too many complacent incumbent companies and products out there today.” What are some lessons you’ve learned about competing against incumbents? What’s a final message or call to action you’d like to leave listeners with? Want to hear other interviews with entrepreneurs who moved from education to the business of EdTech? Michelle Brown - CEO of CommonLit Eileen Murphy Buckley - Founder of ThinkCERCA Charles Best - CEO of DonorsChoose If you liked this episode, then please: Subscribe to The EdTech Startup Show in your favorite podcast player Leave a rating. Write an honest review of the show. Share it with an educator, parents, or entrepreneur in your life. Send your feedback to Gerard Dawson on Twitter or LinkedIn Want more insights on the EdTech Business? Join The Business of Learning Letter, and get the only daily email newsletter, written by a teacher, on the business of education. Sign up here.
53 minutes | Apr 30, 2020
Andy Rahden, CEO of Shmoop: Engineering Leadership and Learning
Today’s guest on the EdTech Startup Show is Andy Rahden. Andy Rahden is Shmoop’s CEO and passionate about progress in the digital learning and educational technology arena. Before hopping aboard the Shmoop train, Andy was the Vice President of the Pluralsight Creative, Design, and Engineering business unit. Armed with his passion for democratizing education, Andy built teams at Pluralsight from the ground up to forge strategic partnerships and create a world-class customer experience. Since his early days as a Mechanical Engineer at Baker Hughes, Andy has always enjoyed solving problems, from mechanical stress tests to Marvel-worthy teams of super-employees. Before Pluralsight, Andy made his way as an all-rounder at Autodesk, where he directed global teams through all elements of improving customer experience. He has also worked for the largest SolidWorks reseller, where he provided in-person training, worked with customers on implementation, and provided guidance to companies transforming their design process. Andy Rahden and Mike Soldan, Shmoop’s Chief Experience Officer are now focused on bringing the latest technology to the K-12 learning space to ease the stress of the learning environment. Andy couldn’t be more excited about progressing, at lighting speed, what Shmoop’s founders Ellen and David Siminoff started over a decade ago. During this episode, Andy and I discuss: Andy’s career before he was the CEO of Shmoop and how his background in engineering and design has led him to what he is doing now. How the people Andy has worked with have influenced how he thinks about making decisions at a professional level The meaning of the word ‘Shmoop’ and how it applies to the concept of what Shmoop does as a company The valuable tools Shmoop provides for teachers and students for grades 6-12 Andy’s observations about school closures due to COVID-19 and Shmoop The free learning Shmoop has provided to over 3 million students across the country that were not previously customers of Shmoop Why there is a drastic difference between where students live and what kind of education they receive Why founders at Shmoop wanted to use a form of engagement rather than the traditional methodology early on How they use humor and a little bit of flair in their content to increase engagement. “Even when you are learning E = MC squared” How Shmoop is able to provide a tool to access the students’ minds for teachers that are working with them Shmoop’s new technology called Shmoop Heartbeat that is expected to release before the 2021 school year. Time-stamped questions from this episode: >>>(0:42) Can you talk about the meaning of the name Shmoop and what you do? >>>(2:38) As a CEO, what's your focus? >>>(10:23) What differences have you noticed as you’ve made a shift into your role at Shmoop? >>>(19:09) How does your background in engineering and design help inform your work? >>>( 22:10) What were your first days at Shmoop like, and can you give any suggestions for people who might be in a similar situation? >>>(30:15) What other influences do you think have had an impact on your way of thinking? >>>(34:22) Can you tell me a little more about Shmoop applying for a patent for the first time? >>>(41:17) Are you able to talk at all about the mechanism of assessing the students' readiness to learn? Links from this episode Shmoop for Schools and Districts Shmoop for Teachers Amar Hanspal at Bright Machines Andrew Anagnost at AutoDesk Digital Promise Website For Shmoop Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Andy’s Social Media Info: Linkedin Twitter Want to hear other business leaders share their approach for entering new roles? Natalie Mactier - Vivi Kirby Salerno - BroadReach EdTech Advisors If you liked this episode, then please: Subscribe to The EdTech Startup Show in your favorite podcast player Leave a rating. Write an honest review of the show. Share it with an educator, parent, or entrepreneur in your life. Send your feedback to Gerard Dawson on Twitter or LinkedIn Want more? Join The Business of Learning Letter, and get the only email newsletter written by a teacher about the business of education. Sign up here.