Ten starry-eyed startups took to the stage this week for SXSWedu’s sixth annual Launch Competition, a two-part challenge where early-stage companies battle head-to-head for feedback, exposure and investment. From VR/AR anatomy learning tools to on-demand grading assistants, there was no shortage of fresh ideas and robust tech to back them up. But in the end, only one could come out on top—and walk away with the $2,500 check.
“This is a culmination of all the hard work we have done for a long time,” said Better Weekdays CEO Chris Motley just after the winners were announced on Wednesday night. “Being a minority-led company, it’s so good to be validated by the industry.”
Based in Saint Louis, Mo., Better Weekdays is an online platform that connects students to employers. Along with uploading their resume, students on the app complete a personality assessment as part of Better Weekdays’ effort to match job seekers with employers based on skills and cultural fit. Meanwhile, employers who use the platform can reach students by way of sharing job and internship postings or through targeting students on the platform before, during and after campus recruiting events.
From the Whether app, which can integrate with an institution’s SIS, LMS and CSM, educators can also push and target relevant hiring opportunities to their students. Schools can then track information gathered on the platform, such as student and employer engagement or graduate outcomes, via the app’s dashboard.
“We want to personalize career pathways and we need to reduce friction to do that” Motley explained during a five-minute finalist pitch to judges judges Darryl Adams (CEO and founder at Adams Consulting and Edutainment Services), Jessica Gartner (CEO and founder at Allovue), Eileen Murphy Buckley (CEO and founder at ThinkCERCA) and Aaron Walker (CEO and founder at Camelback Ventures). “Products often focus on one piece of the puzzle, like the employer, but that leaves out students and educators. The Whether brings these pieces together.”
The Whether is free for schools but costs begin at $500 a month for employers, and scale up depending on company size. Since founding the company in 2011, the company claims $350,000 a year in current revenue.
“We have to collaborate to solve tough challenges in higher education,” Motley said. “We’re building something that will allow others to contribute to our mission.”