December 3, 2012
LearnLaunch to Foster EdTech Ecosystem

is home to over 150 educational technology companies, ranging from early stage startups
to established brands, but it lacks the support system that healthcare and high
tech startups have for collaboration. Three EdTech leaders recently joined
forces to cofound LearnLaunch, which launches today.

cofounder Eileen Rudden, a Lotus alum who served as the Chief Officer of
College and Career Preparation for the Chicago Public Schools, says education
is a critical economic and social issue for the U.S. “As
someone who had been in the software world for many years, it felt like
teachers and principals and the schools themselves were living in a world that
was 25 years behind,” she says. “I came back to Boston a year ago and found a thriving EdTech startup world.”

In the thick of that world was Marissa Lowman, a former Fulbright
fellow who founded a series of networking events called EdTechup, and Jean Hammond, a member and
investor of Hub Angels and Launchpad Venture
founded Kids Club, a peer-learning group for startups that market to families.

conducting a survey of Boston’s EdTech landscape, “we realized that
entrepreneurs weren’t really getting the resources they need to get their
companies off the ground and succeed in the space,” says Lowman, who is LearnLaunch’s
executive director. “LearnLaunch is a way to combat that issue and really bring
them together in a more formalized way.”

adds, “clearly
[education is] a sector that whether you look at college where the issues are
affordability and completion rates or if you look at public education, it could
really benefit.” The companies themselves would benefit from more focused
resources, but Rudden predicts that the local economy and schools will also see
a positive impact.

LearnLaunch is already offering classes on topics like SEO for Education and Selling to Higher Education. “We’re not trying to duplicate things that are available elsewhere like
how to incorporate,” says Rudden. “It’s specific to this very large sector,
which has its own culture and its own regulations and mores.”

They also plan to offer peer learning groups and a conference in
February at MIT called Across Boundaries: Innovation
& the Future of Education
. Lowman
says they ultimately hope to have a physical space and develop an accelerator
focused on education technology. “We have the foundation here for the community
because we have such great universities and public education and a lot of people
passionate about education,” she adds. “We hope to bring all these groups
together to work on changing education for the better through incorporation of

Susan Johnston is a journalist and contributor to VentureFizz.  You can follow Susan on Twitter (@UrbanMuseWriter) by clicking here.