When Entrepreneurship Meets Education: Startup Weekend EDU (Next Weekend!)
What happens when entrepreneurship meets education? As luck has it, you can find out firsthand and in person at Startup Weekend EDU (#SWEDU) on January 23-25 at the new Crossroads Academy. Get on that, though, because tickets are going fast.
Here’s how #SWEDU works.
In 54 hours, diverse folks (that could be you) who care about making a positive impact on education share ideas, form teams, build products and launch education startups. Startup Weekend EDU begins on Friday night with open-mic 60-second pitches. Small teams then form around the best, most viable concepts.
Teams spend Saturday and Sunday focusing on customer development, validating their ideas, and building prototypes with the help of experienced coaches.
On Sunday, teams demo their education products and receive valuable feedback from a panel of expert judges. A winner is selected and education is forever transformed.
And here’s why it’s needed.
We cornered Carrie Markel, COO and cofounder of the Lean Lab, to give us some insights on why SWEDU—and why now. Here’s what she had to say.
Why entrepreneurship and education?
It's no secret that education in Kansas City faces major problems. Currently, only 1 in 3 third grade students reads on grade level, and only 3 out of 10 teachers will remain in the profession by their fifth year. Attempts to reform schools and districts have not been wanting, but we continue to see the same stagnated, middling results year after year.
Meanwhile, we have a city that has seen incredible growth in its entrepreneurial and arts community, new development continues to increase downtown, and more than just BBQ is drawing millennials and talent here.
But for Kansas City to continue to grow and catalyze economic development, we need a world-class education system. We simply cannot sustain the urban core and the human talent that will be needed if our students are not prepared to enter this world.
Education doesn't need another curriculum, set of standards, or top-down reform to "fix" it. It needs the same energy, passion, and autonomy the rest of Kansas City is driving off of.
That's where entrepreneurship comes in.
It's not necessarily an answer as much as it is a framework that gives the control back to the community to make a change. It opens the door to more than just traditional educators and students to create solutions. There is no better time than now when we have a city's belief in itself. We need that same thought in education, which has oftentimes been given up for lost.
What would success look like for this Startup Weekend?
Success for the weekend is creating at least one viable solution to launch into the KC community. On a meta level, I think success would also be closing the "belief gap" in what is possible for the education community to achieve. We want to begin shifting that mindset in Kansas City and spur further innovation and participation in designing solutions for education.
Will students be involved?
Students will certainly be involved. We have several from Blue Valley attending, as well as university students from UMKC and Westminster College. We're hoping teachers will bring students with them to work on solutions.
Who is involved in this particular Startup Weekend?
We have the support of many local companies and individuals who have volunteered their time and resources to support and guide teams as they develop new solutions for education in one weekend.
We also have an incredible panel of judges: Kyle Pace (IT specialist for Liberty Public Schools), Julie Holland (education advisor to Mayor Sly James), Mike Lundgren (director of innovation strategy of at VML), Nathan Kurtz (manager of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation) and Landon Young (director of creativity and innovation at William Jewell College). Finally, MK12, Panera Bread, the UMKC's Regnier Institute, and Thou Mayest have all pledged support as sponsors of the event and we can't thank them enough.