LightSail Glides to V2V Win

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Cool win in a hot city this past week when New York City-based LightSail Education captured the top prize among education companies at the SXSW V2V, business plan pitch competition. 

This was the debut for V2V event, which included pitches from entrepreneurs in five sectors: education, heath, mobile & tablet, culture & entertainment, and innovative world technologies.

LightSail offers Common Core-aligned reading and writing platform (for the iPad for now) that helps K-12 students build literacy skills and provides teachers with a real-time data dashboard. 

The company has the wind at its back: In addition to capturing the top prize for education at the SXSW V2V pitchfest, the company recently won a $500K grant from the Gates Foundation literacy courseware program and closed more than $1 million in angel funding.

The four other edtech companies that presented were:

  • TheHubEdu: an online learning community for higher ed (Beta);
  • ProSky: A program that aims to match college students with projects and internships (Beta);
  • LightUp Inc: Sells components for kids to make gadgets and projects and an app to help them learn how electronics work (Beta);
  • CampusWall: a "Craigslist" for college students, staff and administrators.

Eligible companies demoed products that ranged from about a year old to yet-to-be launched and have not yet raised more than $5 million. (The rules say products had to be launched between August 13, 2012 and November 15, 2013). Also excluded were companies that have pitched in other SXSW venues (including SXSWedu's LAUNCHedu event).

The program is part of the growing sisterhood of SouthBy events, including: SXSW Music, Interactive, Film, Edu, and Eco. With this venture, SXSW has slipped out of its Austin boundaries. It's an event still in flux: even the "V2V" name is up for interpretation: According to the website: "Visionaries to Vegas, Vision to Venture, Voice to Voice, Venture to Vegas--all the variations of the V2V moniker carry the same theme, the movement from idea to reality."

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