Read This Story Twice

column | Incubators

Read This Story Twice

by Betsy Corcoran and Matt Bowman

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Sep 4, 2013

Read This Story Twice

The biggest story making the rounds in startup circles over the past week started with a posting by New York-based entrepreneur and TechStars cofounder, David Cohen based on an anonymous letter.

The letter writer described a bitter experience through an edtech accelerator, shaped by what he felt were broken promises. His confidence was shaken by his interactions with the managing director. As he tells it, the tenor of the conversations turned brittle.

Now it's time to clear the air.

The entrepreneur is Julian Miller, whose company is Learnmetrics. The incubator is Socratic Labs in New York run by Heather Gilchrist. Learnmetrics was part of Socratic's first cohort of startups.

Very much like many startup companies, Socratic has been a "lean startup." Gilchrist, who was part of the founding team of Grockit, leveraged her experience, her network of contacts, her relentless energy and her insights to create an edtech startup incubator. From the start, she applied the kind of zeal and crazy work ethic that characterize startups themselves to helping her cohort of startups.

Miller had already raised $100K in angel funding and graduated from one incubator. He applied to Socratic to continue building his company’s presence in education, eager to take advantage of the network that an early Grockit team member could offer. He packed up and moved to New York.

It was not a good fit.

Of the eight startups in Socratic's Alpha cohort, six feel they had benefited from the engagement. Miller’s experience was clearly different. Gilchrist acknowledges there were disagreements. To publicly air specific points, Gilchrist says, would be detrimental to more people. Gilchrist offers her lessons learned here; so, too, do other cohort members. Miller declined to offer additional comments for this story.

Oddly enough, both Miller and Gilchrist agree on two core points: Everyone has a lot of learning to do. And both of them could have done without the histrionics.

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