Education Innovators Showcase

The Venture Capital in Education Summit will once again hold an Education Innovators Showcase. The Showcase provides a select group of early-stage companies the opportunity to present their companies to the Summit attendees, which will include venture capitalists, strategic investors, and other influential leaders in the education industry.

To qualify for the Showcase, companies were selected through an application process judged by representatives from the Summit’s host organizations, Education Growth Advisors and Startl. Companies are pre-Series A enterprises that have demonstrated market traction and are deploying innovative technology-enabled solutions for enhancing learning or improving operational performance of education institutions.


Showcase Companies

Brainscape is a web and mobile platform that helps students study more efficiently by using an adaptive smart flashcard algorithm. The platform is comprised of two parts: (1) A free content authoring tool that allows students and teachers to easily create, share, and study self-created smart flashcards; and (2) A premium content marketplace for test prep, language, academic, and general knowledge, wrapped into flashcard-based curricula. Brainscape’s revenue model is based on selling premium content. Currently, Brainscape has about 200,000 users (mostly young adults who own an iPhone or iTouch). Ultimately, Brainscape plans to cover all knowledge in the comprehensive content marketplace. Brainscape was founded in 2009 after several years as a personal project.

Engrade is a better way to educate through a suite of easy-to-use web-based classroom tools. Engrade has grown organically through teachers telling teachers or administrators and today, connects 2.7 million administrators, teachers, parents, and students. The classroom tools are primarily designed for K-12 schools and are already used by public, private, and charter K-12 schools, as well as online and offline universities. Engrade continues to spread rapidly with usage in the United States and 150 other countries worldwide.

Some of Engrade’s classroom tools include: Online Grade Book -­ teachers enter assignment scores and grades are automatically calculated based on easily customized grading scales; Attendance -­ teachers track daily attendance just like a spreadsheet; Secure Messaging – Administrators and teachers safely and privately message students and parents in a SPAM-free environment; Homework Calendar - Teachers effortlessly post assignments, events, reminders, and lessons online; Online Quizzes -­ Teachers save hours of time by giving students online quizzes that are automatically graded and inputted into the grade book; Parent and Student Access - Students and parents log in 24/7 to see their up-to-the-minute grade and class information; Admin Reports -administrators instantly see student grades, attendance, and other reports to easily identify at-risk students.

New classroom tools are added on Engrade regularly by our development team or by several educational software partners utilizing Engrade’s robust API. Engrade offers a free toolset as well as premium enhancements.

Global Imagination

Global Imagination (GI) was established in 2002 with the mission to transform the way people experience, understand and act upon global information. The Company’s flagship product, the Magic Planet® is a Digital Video Globe – a digital display with a sphere-shaped screen.

Using interactive media, the Magic Planet provides global information visually, whether it’s Earth sciences, planetary sciences, social science topics or even current events and geo-located social media. It’s widely regarded as the most effective and engaging way for students to learn global information. In a major Chinese Ministry of Education (MoE) study, use of Magic Planets in the classroom raised student comprehension from 79% to 92% across a wide range of K-12 subjects.

GI sells predominantly into two markets: informal education – museums, planetariums, government, etc. – and formal education (K-12). Informal education customers use GI’s proprietary software to develop professional museum exhibits, “IMAX-like” movies, and other content. GI makes this professional content available to its entire customer community – a key attraction for schools.

Based upon the exceptional MoE study results, Chinese schools comprise the vast majority of GI’s K-12 customers – they typically use more than one in a classroom, The Chinese MoE assessed the available market for Digital Video Globes – given the right price point – at over $1B USD. The worldwide available market is over $3B.

Global Imagination’s Magic Planet Digital Video Globe is a patented technology with strong IP protection and virtually no competition. We’re seeking an investment to fund the development, marketing and sales of our product’s evolution: a high-volume Magic Planet, targeted at the $47B Education Technology market.

Late Nite Labs

Late Nite Labs is an education technology company that creates engaging science content for distance and hybrid learning settings. Our virtual lab platform, which contains 150+ experiment simulations, has been an integral part of Biology and Chemistry curriculums at universities, colleges and high schools, since 2006. Each of Late Nite Labs’ experiment modules come equipped with all of the compounds, chemicals, containers and instruments found in a traditional wet lab setting, only in a digital format. Fully online, Late Nite Labs’ content is served over the web and requires no additional text or materials. Instructors use the learning management system to create and manage their courses around a series of virtual labs and assignments. Each lab is equipped with its own digital lab notebook and media player that contains background, procedures and supporting images and video for that experiment. While the lab modules come pre-loaded with all the necessary learning components, each is fully customizable, so that instructors can mold their own unique course offering. Students purchase access to their courses just as they would a textbook, either online or in their local bookstore, and schools pay nothing. Late Nite Labs’ content is developed in partnership with leading universities and publishers who work with an internal team to take advantage of the digital environment toward educating students and stimulating critical thinking. Schools benefit from cost and time efficiencies associated with digital learning while students benefit from engaging always-on digital content targeted to their specific course needs.

Lesson Writer, Inc.

LessonWriter, Inc. was founded in May 2008 to realize the developer’s vision of programming many years of educational experience into expert-systems that automate the detailed and time-consuming arts of creating teaching materials, individualizing instruction, assessing performance, and evaluating data. LessonWriter has accomplished all of this and more, and as the company’s free services grow worldwide local sales of training and premium services in New York and New Jersey public schools are steadily increasing.

LessonWriter’s synergistic business model targets three groups: Through its free services for teachers, LessonWriter is continuing to grow a valuable constituency of teachers that encourage schools to purchase premium services and trainings, which in turn creates opportunities for content creators to reach classrooms. The growth of each group increases LessonWriter’s value to the others.

The powerful, popular, and growing LessonWriter web service has over 13,000 registered users. The company has been featured presenters at national and international education conferences, been guest speakers at graduate-level education classes at Columbia, Fordham, St John’s, and Hunter College, earned teacher trust and administrator endorsements from The Brooklyn High School of the Arts, New Visions for Public Schools, Harvey Milk H.S., Queens Vocational High School, Manhattan Comprehensive and many others in NYC, along with New Milford and Union City High Schools in NJ. And they became profitable. Working part-time.

Imagine what we can do working full-time: We’ll sell more, grow faster, dominate our markets, and extend our contribution to education. We intend to raise between $500,000 and $1.25 million in convertible debt to support our sales and product development efforts.

The Mingoville Company was founded in 2007 and is majority owned by the founder. A total of 6 million USD has been invested into the company’s learning assets. The company offers two online educational products. Both programs make extensive use of storytelling and oral communication. Hence the applications contain close to 40,000 audio files, explaining and guiding the students through different subjects. Mingoville Company is focused on enabling students and teachers to choose different learning platforms. Hence they provide learning material on PC, Interactive whiteboards, Smart phones and tablets.

The first program is called Mingoville ( – it is the world’s most comprehensive online English (ESL, EFL) language learning program for kids age 6 – 12. The website and the interactive dictionary are translated into 32 languages. More that 1.5 million kids have created an account. The program is widely used by privates, schools and governments all around the world. The business model is based on license sales. Private individuals can purchase a one-year license with credit card. Schools and school districts can gain access to an admin panel that allows them to administer teachers and students. Governments can grant free license to an entire country by using special teacher signup forms.

The second program is called Skolemat – Skolemat is at the moment only available in Danish. It contains the entire math curriculum from K-9. Much focus has been made on animations and storytelling that help students learn math. The program allows the student to learn about a new topic, before practicing with exercises. In Denmark, schools and school districts purchase the program. Typically schools purchase a three-year license. More than 160,000 students in Denmark have access to the math program, which is equivalent to 25% of the schools.


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OpenSesame is the world’s marketplace for buying and selling elearning courses and the first marketplace to make buying and selling corporate eLearning as easy as downloading a song from iTunes. Using crowd-sourcing similar to iStockPhoto, the OpenSesame marketplace and technology disrupts the leaders in the highly fragmented $7B elearning content market. OpenSesame enables buyers to access the broadest and freshest selection of elearning content from a worldwide set of publishers all in one location. Content hosted on OpenSesame’s patent-pending platform will work on any Learning Management System (LMS). The marketplace enables content developers of all sizes to reach new buyers without investing in additional sales and marketing resources. Sellers post their courses in the marketplace for free, set the price and discounts, and receive 70% of sales revenue. OpenSesame hosts the content, attracts buyers, collects payment, and receives 30% of sales revenue (using the same revenue-sharing model as the App Store).

OpenSesame launched in November 2010. In March 2011, OpenSesame won the 2011 Angel Oregon Competition sponsored by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. OpenSesame is based in Portland, Oregon.


Due to the pervasiveness of the Internet, there is a great need of individuals, groups and organizations to build, protect and keep current a digital brand and reputation. RippleSend’s product, rrripple, is well positioned as a first-to-market offering of digital ePortfolios to serve this need. rrripple is a digital ePortfolio and analytics platform. rrripple creates a single place to bring all digital media together in one place. The rrripple solution provides users a private “digital safe space” to aggregate, organize, chronicle and curate all types of digital artifacts (individual and group generated). The easy-to-use interface provides the ability to securely create, collaborate and share one-to-one or one-to-many. It provides the tools necessary for users to create, curate and publish their brand. The platform combines traditional forms of communication (PDFs, Word, Excel, photos, videos, SMS and email) and new social media platforms (Facebook, GPS, Twitter, LinkedIn). By integrating with the plethora of different media sources, rrripple gives users the ability to publish in many different ways, including: digital applications for colleges and universities; electronic resumes; and digital portfolios as URL links.

RippleSend has chosen the education sector as its first market, as it is ripe for disruption. The company is capitalizing on the $40 billion dollars spent annually in the US on admissions activities each year. Additionally the company is leveraging the Department of Education mandates and RFPs from various states for ePortfolios. This SaaS-based, portable product allows students of all ages and teachers to maintain their digital ePortfolio from school to school, job to job…for life.

Sources of revenue include: 1) universities and K-12 schools, paying annual fees and committing to 5-year contracts; 2) online individual premium accounts; 3) license agreements from leading online schools and universities.

RippleSend launched its alpha product in September 2009 at TechCrunch50.


Skillshare is a community marketplace for offline classes. Anyone can offer a class on any type of skill, from baking cupcakes to raising startup capital. Skillshare’s business model revolves around taking a 15% transaction fee of each ticket.

The mission of Skillshare is to democratize learning, turning cities into classrooms and its inhabitants into teachers and students. The team at Skillshare believes that everyone has valuable skills and knowledge to teach and the curiosity to keep learning new things. This means every neighborhood, community and city are really the world’s greatest universities. Skillshare’s platform helps make the exchange of knowledge easy, enriching, collaborative, and fun.

The team consists of ex-Hot Potato (acquired by Facebook), OMGPOP, Behance, and Teach for America leaders. Skillshare has received press from TechCrunch, Mashable, Forbes, The Next Web, Daily Candy, Huffington Post, and Wired. And recently raised a seed round from Founder Collective, SV Angel, Collaborative Fund, among other notable angel investors.


Socrative 101
Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. Socrative’s super-intuitive web application runs on tablets, smart-phones and laptops. In the background, the system tracks student performance and provides analytics to aid teachers, students, parents, schools and districts in personalizing and improving learning. Four months after a quiet alpha launch (Feb 2011), over 3,300 teachers and 12,500 students have signed-up.

Socrative addresses three education problems: 1) digital natives learn differently yet we teach them with Industrial Age methods; 2) students have varying learning styles, but class is confined to a uniform pace and method of instruction; 3) teachers, parents, schools and districts lack immediate data and metrics to make timely, informed decisions. The Socrative system engages students by helping teachers make class more interactive and fun. Teachers can also individualize education for each student, such as prescribing instructional videos or different homework to different students. Additionally, the real-time data tracked by the system can be used to assess student, classroom and school district performance.

The total addressable market is $4.3B in 2011. This consists of three areas: $300M audience response systems + $2B Smart Boards + $2B for Education Data Management (Sources: Blackboard, SMART, NY Times).

Several revenue options are currently being investigated and the following opportunities are getting highly positive responses: 1) Schools and Districts: “Enterprise End-Run” Strategy: Socrative is free for teachers for a “land-grab” strategy. They love it and are already championing within their school. The next step is to sell an advanced, data-enhanced version to the school district; 2) Parents: Rather than getting end-of-semester report cards, parents will have a dashboard view into their child’s education; 3) Partnerships: Socrative is already forming strategic partnerships with tablet manufacturers to sell its system in an OEM format.