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Philanthropy’s Essential Role in K-12 Edtech and Strategies for Impact

Although “Record Levels of Edtech Funding” has been a recurring headline, there hasn’t been a focus on the role of philanthropy as the majority of funding is coming from the private sector. From our front line view as an active edtech seed investor, we see the need for diverse forms of capital to realize the full potential of technology to differentiate instruction and drive improved learning outcomes. With their long view of the market […] Read more

Data Analytics Tools in U.S. K-12

The use of data to influence decision-making isn’t new to K-12 education.  In fact, given the sheer amount of paperwork, surveys and test scores generated, education has the potential to be one of, if not the, most data-driven sector in the U.S., but too often the data that teachers and administrators are saddled with is untimely or inactionable. We’re excited to see that change.Over recent years, a slew of next generation data […] Read more

Investment Approaches of the Seed Fund – Part III

Tools to Differentiate Instruction in a One-Size-Fits-All Education SystemLast weekend, I sat in a sewing class with my ten year old daughter and was surprised to learn that ⅓ of our day would be dedicated to programming our sewing machines. The room full of women, most over sixty years old, happily embraced the automation of tasks like embroidery now possible thanks to the software running their machines. Marc Andreesen is right – Software […] Read more

Where are K-12 Edtech Venture Backed Startups Based?

This is the first post in a series to spotlight trends in K-12 edtech venture funding data.Advantageous location of a startup is no substitute for a great product or entrepreneur, but it may increase the odds of success. In edtech, early success for a startup often hinges on access to talent, early-stage funding, high-quality accelerators, research partnerships and innovation-friendly school districts.According to year-to-date K-12 edtech venture funding data provided by EdSurge, the […] Read more

Investment Approaches of the Seed Fund- Part II

Last week I shared some of our thinking behind our investments in STEM, relevance and communication, found here. With this post, I’ll share our approach for investing in special education and english language learning.Specialized Tools Can Better Reach Children Outside of the Mainstream While traditional venture capital has backed consumer-oriented english language learning tools like Rosetta Stone, Livemocha and more recently, mobile apps like Duolingo, we take a very different approach. We target tools for […] Read more

Investment Approaches of the Seed Fund- Part I

Our Seed Fund supports high potential entrepreneurs developing technology solutions for the biggest challenges in K-12 education. We look for areas where the power of technology can improve our education system and its ability to maximize the learning potential of every child. We borrow our approach from venture capital¹ in that we develop investment theses informed by listening to educators, researching technology trends, studying student achievement data, and listening closely to the […] Read more

Defining Impact in Education Technology

“I have trouble understanding double, triple bottom line funds – there can only be one bottom line for impact funds. That’s why they call it the bottom.”  – a paraphrase of Kevin StarrI am thrilled by the attention the education market has been getting lately, from double bottom line, impact, and profit-maximizing funds alike. What “success” looks like is different to each stakeholder, and I consider myself lucky to work at a well financed fund […] Read more

Technology and Student Engagement

In the age of mobile computing, attention and engagement have become commodities. Advertisers are willing to spend millions for mere seconds of viewers’ attention. With all the ads and apps buzzing in students’ pockets in the 21st century classroom, we had to ask ourselves: how are learning technologies (books, desktops, tablets, and otherwise) keeping up with the rising bar of grabbing attention? What are the best practices for engaging students today? Specifically […] Read more

Live From Summit 2014: But How Do We Know What’s Working?

The pace of technology adoption in schools is accelerating like a Formula 1 race car driven by both teachers and administrators hungry for products that spur deeper engagement and better results.. But how can customers, product developers, and investors figure out what’s working?  In this session we heard from entrepreneurs, investors and publishers about the latest ideas for defining efficacy and assessing the impact of education technology on student learning.  In the past […] Read more

Why Direct-to-Consumer Models Matter in Education

In the last few weeks I’ve enjoyed two great reads on edtech investing, both advocating for a district direct sales approach for growing businesses. 1. Matt Greenfield, There is no Bubble in Educational Technology: Not for Businesses that Actually Make Sense. 2. Michael Feldstein, Why VC’s Usually Get Edtech Wrong.  Silicon Valley VC’s, on the other hand, don’t seem to be buying it, here’s what Marc Andreesen said.   “I wouldn’t want to […] Read more