Katrina Stevens, guest blogger
People organize Startup Weekend EDU events for a variety of reasons.
Nihal ElRayess cares passionately about making education more significant on the national agenda. For her, if the non-educators in the room only went home and kept talking about issues facing education, the hours she spent pulling off this event would have been worth it. It’s also about creating community, bringing together participants from different backgrounds, different careers and working for 54 hours towards a common goal. It’s also about giving people an opportunity to experience “entrepreneurship” and encouraging teacherpreneurs as well as non-teachers to collaborate on education problems (pushing them to learn how to identify real problems) and innovation in education.
Having developers/designers/entrepreneurs working with educators to demo a real MVP by Sunday night is an added bonus. I first met Nihal at my first EDU weekend when she joined our LessonCast team for the weekend—aside from her mad design skills, her passion for improving education was immediately apparent, so I’m not surprised that she tapped into her Teacher For America Alum network to co-organize this successful past event.
As a successful entrepreneur and cofounder of Kno Inc, Babur feels strongly that it’s important to contribute toward creating a strong ed tech community, and he wants to give back because many other entrepreneurs have supported his own entrepreneurial journey, a frequent sentiment heard among this crowd.
Babur also wanted more access to educator voices—with each event, more educators are participating, so this will become increasingly even more true. It’s one of the main reasons I keep returning to these events—I want educator voices to infuse what’s created during these weekends. If people are going to spend so much time and energy creating a product, then let’s make that product actually improve education.
Recruiting talent was another possible outcome for KNO; these weekends are a great venue to showcase and find talent. Let them know if you’re interested!
Babur didn’t mention promoting name recognition, but it’s certainly an added benefit. I didn’t know much about Kno before coming to this event—I’m based in Baltimore, so that may be part of it. Through this event though, I now two of the great guys behind this organization, Babur Habib and Ousama Haffar, and I can now share what their company provides in future situations where people are looking for their solution. If folks from these organizing companies want feedback from teachers in the future, I’d certainly be willing to help them, and I imagine other educators who participated feel similarly.
I’m grateful that Nihal’s team and Kno Inc did such an amazing job this weekend!