Boom. Here Comes Salt Lake City’s Edtech Accelerator


Boom. Here Comes Salt Lake City’s Edtech Accelerator

By Tony Wan     Apr 7, 2015

Boom. Here Comes Salt Lake City’s Edtech Accelerator

BoomStartup, an Utah-based tech accelerator with campuses in Park City, Provo and Salt Lake City, has chosen education as its first vertical-specific program.

It will be led by a couple of former Pearson pals: Steve Curtis, who was previously the publisher’s Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, and Jessica Bleak, who worked in strategy and communications.

When it comes to technology, Salt Lake City doesn’t get the adulation often lavished on Silicon Valley. But it’s home to some of the biggest education startups as far as investment deals are concerned. There’s Pluralsight, an online library of training videos for IT and creative professionals, which raised $135 million in 2014. There’s also Instructure, developer of the Canvas learning management system, which this year raised $40 million on its way to an IPO. And MasteryConnect, which provides formative assessment tools for K-12, is a mere 15-minute drive away.

“Silicon Slopes,” as the region is trying to brand itself, has all the makings of a bustling edtech community, says Jessica Bleak, who will serve as managing director of BoomStartup’s edtech program. A handful of edtech companies—including Ardusat and Room Choice—have already gone through BoomStartup’s general tech accelerator since its launch in 2010.

For its first edtech cohort, BoomStartup will accept up to six startups tackling everything from K-12 to higher-ed and professional learning. “We’re looking for startups that may be in the early stage of validating their MVP, as well as those already generating up to $2 million in revenue,” Bleak tells EdSurge.

Applications are open until June 1, and the program will run from July 6 to October 8, when the participants will present to investors at a demo day. Relocation to Salt Lake City for the duration for the program is “recommended, but not mandatory,” Bleak says; remote mentoring is possible. Each company will get $20,000 in exchange for six percent equity, along with office space and legal, financial, web and e-commerce services provided by the program’s sponsors.

Financial support currently comes from BoomStartup, and Bleak is looking to raise $3 million to keep the edtech accelerator sustainable. The next industry vertical, she says, will likely be in healthcare.

This is the sixth edtech accelerator to open its doors this year, following AT&T, Jefferson Education Accelerator, Intel and yes, even one from the Pope. Another, the EDgeEDtech accelerator in New York, is run by Don Burton, who previously managed the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator.

There are now nine such programs that offer funding to edtech startups. At this rate, does anyone want to set an over/under for how many more we’ll see in 2015?

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