STRTPWKND EDU SF: 54 hours, 160 folks, 56 pitches, 18 teams, and endless pizza. "Intentional serendipity," as mentor Jessie Arora put it. Folks flew in from the far reaches of Minnesota and Boston. And as chaotic as it looked on the first day, there's a method to the madness, according to EDU vertical leader Khalid Smith. The sessions are converging on a golden ratio for a productive, high-energy yet intimate edtech community, he says: 25% teachers, 15% biz/marketers, 20% designers, 40% developers (in very high demand). Blogger Katrina Stevens agrees: the first session lacked teachers--and even had a slight sense of hostility and aversion towards them as if they were the problem. Now, she's happy to see teachers actively participating with ideas and valued as content designers for many of the teams.
Mentors emphasized the "lean startup" model and Steve Blank's customer development and validation focus. General impressions from first-night piches: "gamify" was loosely thrown around for everything from exercise apps to career discovery tools; online tutoring/mentoring is still as popular as ever; and a fair amount of re-hashing of ideas that others are working on. (Ahem, encourage your buddies to glance through some back issues of EdSurge before the weekend!) Still Khalid reminds us that this is a learning experience that draws edtech entrepreneurs together, and not just a product-building exercise.
And right--the weekend winner was MySciHigh, led by Brian Greenberg and Robert Schwartz: a tool that aims to reinvent science courses by curating and re-mixing existing online content. Their next stop: a meeting with Andreessen Horowitz.