November 23, 2014

Boston Startup Weekend Education: A Recap

Boston hosted Startup Weekend Education in WeWork Fort Point this past weekend.  There were more than seventy attendees, and they came from all over North America with varied backgrounds, such as educators, developers, designers, businesspeople, etc., but they all grouped together to work towards the common goal of creating a positive impact on education.

Vicky Guo, a Startup Weekend facilitator, kicked off the event by explaining the rules.  In order to give the attendees a little taste of what a pitch should sound like, Vicky engaged them in a game of Half Baked.  All participants were split into teams of eight people, and they were given phrases such as “banana beer” and “reindeer synergy,” and they would pitch an idea based on that phrase. 

Then, thirty-six one-minute pitches were made to all the participants.  Attendees voted for ideas that they liked, and the top ten were presented again.  At the end of the night, eleven teams were formed.  After the team members introduced each other and created a game plan for the rest of the weekend, all attendees were encouraged to rest and be ready for the next day.

Saturday started with two workshops on the lean startup model and basic coding.  Some participants were so dedicated to learning basic coding that they even stayed longer than the scheduled time! Teams then dove straight into their work of validating markets and making prototypes for their products/services.  They also met with mentors for some advice on how to present their ideas. 

On Sunday, twelve teams focused more on refining their pitches in anticipation of the final presentations to the panel of judges. 

Here are the top three winners:

1st Place: NEWHALL, a collaborative community that showcases students’ accomplishments and life experiences

2nd Place: Parent Primer brings curated content by master teachers to help parents learn together with their children

3rd Place: Lean Gap exposes high school students to entrepreneurship and helps them create businesses in the summer

        The top 3 winning teams from Boston Startup Weekend Education (photo credits to Fernando Albertorio)

The judges also named Gradestar as “most likely to succeed,” and Future Vision as an honorable mention.

The top three winning teams received 3D-printed medals and trophies sponsored by MakerBot.  Additional prizes included AskEducators credits that could be used towards more validation of the ideas, coworking space, etc.

Although there is only one first place spot, hopefully every participant learns something new before he/she leaves, and that new skill(s) can be applied to his/her job.  The organizing team declared that it is as important to support the participants after the event as during it.  Many attendees noted that they felt like they were working all weekend, but in the end, they are happy that they came to Startup Weekend for the great experience and for the even more awesome people!

While explaining what the next steps should be in order to stay connected, Vicky stated that generally around twelve percent of the teams would continue directly with the idea that they have generated through Startup Weekend Education events.  Hopefully, we will see these ideas at more developed stages in the future.  Thank you to everyone who participated and cheered on Boston Startup Weekend Education!

Julie Zhou is a student at Babson College and a Contributor to VentureFizz.