WHEN THE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD LISTENS TO YOUR PITCH: Okay, so they didn't serve Dos Equis but the Imagine K12 honchos did manage to invite two extremely interesting guys to listen to pitches by their first cohort of startups: Newark's mayor-with-a-Big-Future-ahead, Cory Booker, and entrepreneur-extraordinaire, Reid Hoffman, spent an evening listening and questioning Imagine K12 startups. (Good reason to apply to the incubator: sweet connections!) EdSurge slipped in, too: what we found interesting were the kinds of questions and points made by the dynamic duo. Concepts that excite Booker: increasing teacher effectiveness, saving money, as well as personalizing learning and teaching kids to set their own goals--when the program address low income students. (Hey, Kalimah, take note!) Priorities: he wanted to hear about where beta trials were going on: are those place geographically near or similar to Jersey?
Since distribution is such a huge problem for this industry, Reid Hoffman pushed back on hand-wavy claims, particularly when entrepreneurs talked about stirring up "viral" adoption. Reid reminded them that "viral" edtech doesn't work the same as "viral" games. Overall, both men said they were impressed with startup energy even though clearly the industry has to do a better job of communicating outside of Silicon Valley. Reid, who is clearly tracking the industry closely, made a blizzard of references to companies, leaving Cory grumbling that "You lost me on all that Quasimoto, Edmodo stuff."