Eva's Café

Singspiel

I saw this pitch and thought I’d put it in the pool.

singspiel

Company: Singspiel

Team: Arian Rahbari, Ivan Cheung

Industry: Education technology, music, learning software

Founded: 2012

Elevator pitch: Singspiel is music education software that makes regular music practice more effective by leveraging mobile technology to provide coherent feedback to students.

Vision: Organize the world’s forthcoming products to make them more accessible while quantifying the world’s level of anticipation for them.

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/92193610[/vimeo]

Singspiel Website

Company Overview – Finances, Team

PitchDeck

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Founders Parade

Life in A Jar: Irene Adler Project —- Founder’s Perade Activity

Learning Technology Venture: Life in a Jar – the Irene Sendler Project

Founders: Megan Stewart, Elizabeth Chambers and Sabrina Coons in 1999

Life As a Jar

Started in: 1999 as a school project, research into a woman named Irene Sendler led to the discovery of her heroic role in rescuing children from the Ghetto in Warsaw, Poland during WWII. The founders wanted to bring this story to the world and thus created a play for which they have traveled extensively to present, foster dialogue and increased awareness surrounding multiculturalism. In addition, the project uses project based learning, and seeks continued technological innovation to spread the story and promote conversation.

Primary product or service: non-profit foundation that offers a Play, Website used house info and resources for the public re: Diversity and the Life in a Jar Project, Avenue to donate funds to Holocaust Education curriculum in the U.S.A and the Children of the Holocaust Association, there is also info about the Book and Movie about Irene Sendler.

What is really interesting about the founders is that they stumbled upon this venture very unexpectedly and at a very young age (began in 1999), they were able to see the opportunity that Irene Sendler’s story had to influence change amongst young people. So now the founders as adults, have evolved in the organization, providing a more comprehensive number of resources and objectives. The Irene Sendler Play is one of many plays now available. The project is made available in and amongst other diversity projects and plays. The team has evolved over time to include area experts, board members who are well connected and provided initial funding sources, members of the Jewish community etc.

These entrepreneurs have put their idea and experience into an organization that has a not-for-profit mandate, thus solely seeking to benefit society. My own reflections are that the project itself is very interesting, and the founders having gone through the experience of meeting Irene herself, as well as making valuable connections with her family and friends and gaining that support really provides a level of credibility and personalization that I am sure the audience can relate to. In addition, this kind of play and diversity project fits really well into the values that education (primary/elementary/high school) is fostering today and I can see how this group would be readily welcomed.

Where I can see room for growth is having more technology integration into the project for those where the play may be out of reach of unable to fit into their schedule. For example, viewing the play live via the web with a group of schools who can then converse and debrief afterwards as an activity. As well, it will be interesting how integrating learning technology could expand diversity projects such as communication between various students across the United States and their experience with the Life in a Jar project.

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Founders Parade

Panorama Education (Learning Analytics) – Aaron Feuer

Founder & CEO : Aaron Feuer

Venture name : Panorama Education (Learning Analytics)

Aaron_Feuer

 Venture Description :

Panorama Education is a company providing data analysis solutions for K-12 to more than 4000 schools. By analyzing the feedback from various stakeholders, it helps schools in improving teaching, increasing student and parent engagement, attracting and retaining great teachers, and fostering a positive campus culture. Panorama Education provides an end to end solution right from design of surveys, administration, report, analysis and follow up. Apart form these, it also provides implementation consultation, technical assistance, and training to the client.

As far as the value proposition is concerned, as predicted by most of the EdTech Surveys, learning analytics is going to hit it big in 2014. So Panorama Education is a right company at the right time. The point of differentiation for this venture is that it is built specifically for educators and is customizable district by district. It is the first to include all the stakeholders of a district on one integrated platform.

Aaron Feuer – Biography :

A Yale Graduate in Political Science and Global Affairs in 2013. Aaron, who began to code from grade 4, also brings with him, extensive experience as a web developer and programmer in projects ranging from a desktop widget app for Google to album promotion for Madonna to a Facebook app for National Public Radio. Shocked by the fact that of his freshman class of 1600 students, only about 800 graduated, Aaron was motivated to find the  reason for these problems in education. Aaron and his group received a $25,000 grant from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI) and other Yale fellowships. They also received $25,000 grant from a YEI pitch competition to build a new analytical system which is now Panorama Education. He also served as the President of the California Association of Student Councils.

His LinkdIn profile also states that he was an intern for the U.S.  House of Foreign Affairs, Head page for the US Senate and Legal Assistant for Bet Tzedek Legl Services (a non Profit). According to me Aaron’s success comes from his vision developed partly because of the various roles he played – both for the Government and the Non Profits, his leadership in taking initiative for the problem that motivated him, his multi skilled personality (Political Science, Global affairs and computers). Also I think working with the government system as an intern helped him understand the nitty grtties of the system and also make the right contacts. The fact that Panorma Education worked with big names like Los Angeles Unified School District and Connecticut State Department of Education might have some links to this. Reaching out to 4000 schools across 26 states might not have been possible otherwise

Team members:

His team seems to consist mostly of Yale graduates – with fellow Yale graduate – Xan Tanner and David Carel – also the co founder of the Venture, Jessica Cole (Winner of the Yale inventor Challenge) . Mark Zuckerberg also invested $4 million dollar in the Panorma Education – which is a big name to be associated with. Also Ashton Kutcher is one of the investors. The investor list includes people who have been part of many successful ventures like skype, Flipboard, Chegg so there is a good possibility that the venture does well.

Personal Reflections:

My most important take aways have been the following –

1. There has to be a correct time for the venture launch – every technology has one

2. Passion to solve a problem will take you a long way.

3. Having a hollistic understanding /vision and the right contacts are necessary.

More information:

https://angel.co/panorama-education

https://www.panoramaed.com/

http://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronfeuer

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Founders Parade

Haiku Learning

www.haikulearning.com Haiku Learning offers cloud-based content, creation and sharing. Users are able to create websites, share information, manage on-line group projects, create e-portfolios and facilitate group discussion. Haiku learning partners with many other educational leaders to enhance their work, such as Google Apps for Education, Intelligent Papers and Jigsaw Meeting. Their goal is to improve learning and education by creating a digital framework to support students, teachers and school divisions. Harmony, simplicity and community are the elements used to customize support. Founders : Bryan Rafael Falcon is Co-Founder and CEO of Haiku Learning. His vision for Haiku Learning came as a result of his work as a consultant with various school districts in the United States. He noted that many school boards were dissatisfied with the options available for learning management systems. His innovative and creative facilitated the development of digital learning in an effort to provide a more effective learning management system for students, teachers and school boards. Bryan has a BA in Theatre from Goshen College and a MFA in Directing from Western Illinois University. Allen Angell is Co-Founder and President of the Company. While Bryan supports the creative side of the Haiku Learning, Allen is involved with the business development side of the organization. Allen earned a BA in Communication and Business from Goshen College. bryan-falcon                                                                                                   allen-angell Bryan Falcon, Founder & CEO                                                                                                         Allen Angell, Founder & President Team: According to their website, their Business Development team consists of eight members, twelve individuals support Client Services, Operations are handled by four staff members and their Product team has fourteen employees. Haiku Learning works with numerous other educational technology companies that complement their product. The process of analyzing educational ventures has enhanced my understanding of the many elements involved in the successful support of a company. In addition, it has given me a better perspective on the opportunities for employment and the fact that I possess many of the attributes necessary for positions such as curriculum development. I have been impressed with the level of education and experience of Board Members and employees of other ventures I researched. Haiku Learning Founders do not possess the same level of educational and professional background as other educational technology companies. Their vision, passion and creativity have driven their ambition and success. I was surprised Google Apps for Education was one of their partners. When reading through the Haiku Learning website, I wondered how their product could provide something unique as I presently am able to perform many of the same functions with my Gmail account. I am interested in signing up for a trial account to assess its value and ability to uniquely support a classroom.

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Founders Parade

Edmodo Review

Edmodo is a “social learning platform” website for teachers, students, and parents, often referred to the Facebook for schools due to its familiar set up and design. 

Nic Borg is the co-founder and CEO of Edmodo Inc.

 nic borg

Biography

Nic Borg and Jeff O’Hara are the co-founders of Edmodo. Borg is also the CEO and Chief Product Officer of the company which was founded in 2008 in San Mateo, California.  He leads product development to ensure that Edmodo continues to meet the needs of teachers and students around the globe. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Illinois University and before launching Edmodo, Borg worked at Kaneland High School in Maple Park, IL for seven years, building web-based tools and learning management solutions. It was during this time that Borg realized the need for a secure social platform in the classroom. Working in the IT department, they were being asked to block a number of social networking sites in schools due to safety concerns. Edmodo was created from the need to blend online and offline learning using digital tools and resources, but within a safe environment.

Edmodo is a private K-12 classroom communication tool developed for teachers and students seeking a secure social network for classroom use. On the secure platform, teachers and students can collaborate, share content, and access educational apps to support in class learning. The goal for Edmodo is to create social media tools that help teachers engage students and to give every school in the world access to them.

Borg continues to work within the company and plans to stay with the company in any capacity in which they will have him. The team is comprised of Jeff O’Hara, co-founder and co-owner, Crystal Hutter, Chief Operating Officer, Emma Nothmann, Senior Director of Partnerships & Business Development, and Betsy Whalen serves as Vice President of Community Engagement. It is a privately held company with an employee base of 50-200 people. As it is a privately held company, statistics and information on the team was difficult to attain. From his interviews, Nic Borg appears passionate about making this technology accessible to all educators and using direct feedback from its users to drive the changes and improvements to the platform. 

Nic Borg has been named to Forbes prestigious “30 under 30” list, as an innovative entrepreneur under the age of 30.

I have included a short video clip of Nic Borg and the company.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v30MWY4WAS0[/youtube]

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Pitch Pool

DOT by KOGETO – pitch analysis

DOT_red_drop_mediumPRODUCT INTRODUCTION:

In this December 2011 episode of “Elevator Pitch,” host Alan Meckler talks with Kogeto founder and CEO Jeff Glasse about the Dot, his company’s panoramic video iPhone attachment, which was built with funding from Kickstarter. KOGETO brings DOT,  360º video to iPhone , featured in Apple store, raised a $100K on Kickstarter. The Dot is a revolutionary attachment for the iPhone that, together with Kogeto’s free Looker app, allows users to capture immersive panoramic video and share it with friends via Facebook, Twitter, email to a friend, and host on the proprietary kogeto.com.

PITCH ANALYSIS:

The founder and CEO Jeff Glasse, a stand-up comedian, did a good pitch start with the nutshell intro of DOT,  360º video to iPhone attachment. Capturing and sharing the 360º panoramic video dotspots is quite easy. Dot is not an expensive attachment, ranging from $39-$49, depending on the colour and the model of the iPhone (4, 4S, or 5). The use of Dot is limitless in all situations, and perhaps would be a real estate’s agent’s dream for getting up full panoramic videos of their property listings, great way to give virtual tours, or capture crowds and performers at a concert, to give just a few examples. Once you’ve recorded some dotspots, you can share them directly to Twitter, Facebook, and Kogeto’s own website, making it fun and easy to share your videos with friends. Looker also has some basic video trimming and flipping options, for polishing your video a bit before sharing.

The pitch emphasizes a variety of strengths of the product and its support logistics (site, attachments, software app, additions, web store, panoramic video eco-system) is well designed and promising, so based on the press coverage (http://www.kogeto.com/press_page.php) and market presence, the project is in demand on the high-tech market and have a future.

  • The CEO , Jeff Glasse appear credible, capable and confident to seriously succeed in this venture.
  • Their success on Kickstarter tells that public (market) recognized the value of the product.
  • Venture Concept is original and feasible. They already done their homework (over $1.5M on Kickstarter)!  The “DOT”story is quite credible and compelling.
  • Marketability is significant and realistic opportunity space and market size is huge, for now limited to iPhones, and it brings huge market share and revenue selling DOT and related products. Competitive edge is theirs, no big competitors!
  • Venture Plan:
    • Market Readiness: the proposed path to success is quite realistic, they’re half-way there.
    • Exit Strategy:  the funder and CEO really knows what success is and has a clear destination.
    • Investor Affinity: The risk is quite minimal for this proposition, they share success of iPhones on the market?   I like the strategy of this CEO and his plan, so adding more than money would ensure even bigger success, e.g. covering the success?

Below are the Dot venture highlights:

  1. Pain Point: people like taking videos, and the huge market needs good panoramic video app for Apple iPhones
  2. Solution: DOT,  by KOGENT, 360º video to iPhone attachment;
  3. Differentiation: almost no quality alternatives on the market;
  4. Marketing: website based, through Apple store, Kickstarter, advertised in retail stores, etc.
  5. Championship: well organized venture with experienced leader and advisors that believe in quality products;
  6. Competition: almost no competitors and Apple is a significant partner;
  7. The Ask: Already raised $100K from Kickstarter, $3M required for the next step; they’re already half-way through.
  8. The Return: Not communicated, though imho, this is successful venture, and the investors will be well recompensed.

Potential Weaknesses and Opportunities:

  1. The video is grainy, blurry and optically distorted, warped, pixelated; consider making higher quality lenses,
  2. Protrusion of DOT lense, makes the product fragile and cumbersome,
  3. The Dot cannot be used with cover, design cover embedded DOT for iPhone and other smartphones,
  4. Only the Apple smartphones (iPhone 4, 4S, and 5) are covered by the product, other platform opportunities exist
  5. Work on developing DOT for wide industry application and solutions
  6. Design the Dot for the other main smartphone families (Android, Symbian,Windows Phone, etc
  7. Increase the Looker app recording limit (now up to 8 minutes of video)

YES, I would definitely invest in this venture!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDVKz_HDktI&index=15&list=PLE1052C9B5D016F19[/youtube]

Milorad

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Founders Parade

Robert Sun – First in Math

RobertSun_

Venture Description

First in Math is a comprehensive online resource for K-8 mathematics. It uses an engaging and interactive game based approach to support mastery and encourage practice. Practice is self-directed and progression based. Learners receive immediate feedback to help develop their problem solving and reasoning skills, building the foundation for algebra in higher grades. The game also uses friendly competition, through ranking and virtual award stickers, to motivate learners. Other key features include the ability for teachers to track student progress and family logins.

The original value appears to lie in the notion that this resource will engage learners to the point where they will want to practice math, just like they would a sport. The First In Math website states that they aim to make math appealing and accessible through a cost-effective instructional tool. Robert Sun also states that his goal is to create a new generation of thinkers.

Founder Bio/Critique

Robert Sun is the founder, chairman, president and chief executive of Suntex International Inc. He has an impressive background that traverses the titles of inventor, engineer, entrepreneur and social activist. His educational background is in electrical engineering and he spent 7 years working as a senior project engineer. He holds a number of US patents and originally developed a successful card based mathematics game, 24 Game. Over 10 million students use his games. Having a varied background he is likely skilled in a number of areas that have proven to benefit his ventures. He has been involved with a number of organizations including the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. He has also won a number of awards including: Asian Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2008) and a US Congressional Medal of Distinction (2008). Based on his community achievements he appears to be a highly self-motivated individual with strong networking connections. The First In Math website describes Sun as a mixture of creativity and technical skills and that he balances the intellectual with the practical. The following statement is found on his website, “a student of Eastern philosophy, Sun believes that we have the power to direct or influence our life energy. He knows that if he thinks positively enough about making something happen, it will.” A philosophy likely shared by many successful entrepreneurs.

It was difficult to find any information about other team members. The only thing I found was that Suntex International Inc. employs 10-19 people. Based on the website and the estimated annual revenue of the company, I suspect that he has assembled a good quality team.

Resources/More Information

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-sun/

http://explore.firstinmath.com/about-fim/robert-sun/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24_Game

http://www.manta.com/c/mmjbzzp/suntex-international-inc

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Founders Parade

Blackboard Review – Jay Bhatt

The learning technology venture I picked is BLACKBOARD INC. I know probably that this will be done by several people, but the website is very comprehensive and professional. The current president and CEO of the company is Jay Bhatt.


Founder: Jay Bhatt, also CEO.
Title of Company: Blackboard Inc.



Jay-Bhatt

Biography of Jay Bhatt:



Jay Bhatt is the president and CEO of Blackboard, and directs the organization with the value proposition that education itself in the 21st century is changing and that the organization is shaping the future of education. It has a very simple proposition: moving forward through everyday learning. The corporation is solving the biggest problems in education by offering technologies and solution to advance learning, providing global access for all learners. The organization divides its products and services according to industry and level. It spans across four areas: Kindergarten to 12, Higher Education, Government and Business. Services and Products are offered in each of these areas. In the K-12 area, there are three types of service models that are offered: Teaching and Learning, Communications, and Partnerships. The teaching and learning area includes products such as the Common Core, Innovative Classroom, and Open Learning Solutions. The Communications area focuses on products such as Parental Engagement, K-12 Central and TipTxt. Lastly, the Partnerships includes several products to support learning needs by easily accessing networks of K-12 partners. The other areas, includes products for training talent and recruitment needs, consulting services, communication needs, and enrolment needs. They all slightly differ, but the company does sell quite a bit.

Biography of the Founder, Team and Analysis:



The founder Jay Bhatt understanding how to grow software and technology, as he has held many businesses in the past developing into more mature corporation. Jay is also a teacher, and has a desire to build better educational experiences for everyone. He served as the president and CEO at Progress Software, and was also the Senior Vice President of global architecture, engineering, and construction solutions at Autodesk Inc. He has also worked as an investment banker and transactional attorney before joining buzzsaw.com. He holds a JD (Juris Doctor) degree from UCLA and a Bachelor of Arts from UPenn.

Jay holds an impressive background, and from an educational perspective he seem to have strong credentials, however it does not necessitate success, nor does it mean that credentials make a person successful. They are there and it bolsters the application process. It mentions Jay is a former teacher, however he does not hold a Bachelor of Education, so I can draw the conclusion that he just had a passion to teacher after completing his law degree and decided to go in a completely different direction. From the bio, it seems that his passion is a strong driving force which is necessary for success. He exhibits the motivation to grow, and it seems that in his past experiences, he managed to learn as much as possible in holding various positions in different areas at Autodesk. Although his CV is not listed, I am assuming that he managed to either climb the corporate ladder, or start from the top in creating Progress software. He seems to understand business development, as he worked in the area before with Buzzsaw.com, and his law background definitely can assist in legal matters with business development. As he exudes the passion and drive in education and technology, it seems that he has the knowledge to run a company however his team would be responsible for continuous growth. His overall bio is comprehensive, and it seems that he is a well-rounded individual, necessary for success as an entrepreneur. Education is important but it is not a deciding factor in business growth. Many of the team members hold Bachelor level degree, but decided to work and develop their skills in industry. I suppose there are quite a few Senior Vice Presidents, so I wonder – who are the junior-level presidents? There are no figures as to how many people are employed in the company, and how many executives there are. What is interesting is that as I checked out what positions are available, I found that there are several product development/engineer type positions and sales positions (account manager/executive). Both can be stressful in my opinion!

The team is composed of various Senior Vice Presidents managing various portfolios or sections of the company. There all belong to either three areas: Industry Solutions, Technology and Services, and Corporate. Within the Industry Solutions area, you have Maurice Heiblum and David Marr managing higher education, Mark Belles managing K-12, and Matthew Small managing the International area. Within the Technology area, there is Gary Lang in Product Development, Mark Strassman in Product and Industry Management, and Katie Blot in Professional Services. Finally in the legal area, you have Bill Davis in Finance, Denis Haselhorst in HR, Michael Bisignano in Legal, and Tracey Stout in Marketing.

Many of these characters hold Bachelor degrees and some hold advanced degrees, but many indicate their experience level. I definitely value an equal combination of both, and most importantly personality is everything. How professional are these people in the workplace, and are they easy to work with? If you have a Vice President that is getting paid a few million a year salary, and they are awful people, you wonder how they got into that position. Next, are they effective managers, and are they good with people overall. This kind of information, you can’t get from the bio, but its critical to success in these kinds of positions. People will lack in certain areas, education, experience, knowledge, personality, but a healthy combination of these will guarantee success as an entrepreneur. His team members are more intrapreneurs, bringing their expertise to the company.

Thanks!

Peter

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