Don’t be afraid to go there

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Pitch night action by Jenn Yoo

Pitch night action on Friday by Jenn Yoo

First off, our apologies on not being more active bloggers – it was our first time organizing and unfortunately we never got the blogging ball rolling. So here’s a quick re-cap of the weekend.

Alan Louie of ImagineK12 applauded Hello Visa for their winning pitch at this year’s Startup Weekend EDU SF at Parisoma. Their goal? To become the Turbotax for Student Visas with a smart tool designed to navigate their path and manage their legal status. Now that you know the end, let’s bring it back to the start.

Susie Wise, K12 Lab Director at the Stanford d.School, kicked off the event challenging the nearly 100 innovators made up of techies, educators and entrepreneurs, to make something that matters. It was steep competition from the outset of the 54 hour whirlwind and pitching rounds began with Teach for America, Caliber Schools and Summit PS each presenting their challenges followed by 43 participants. After giving the over 20 teachers a chance to validate ideas by voting on their favorites, teams formed organically around presenters with teacher approved post-its. Saturday was full of action for the 14 teams with a big push from mentors to get outside and talk to users. One team headed to a nearby mall to ask teens how they would value organizing their college application process. Socrafund team member, Henry Peng, explained that their idea for microfunding classrooms “evolved several times over the weekend after getting feedback from teachers and mentors”.

A teaching moment from Michael Staton and fellow judges by Jenn Yoo

A teaching moment from Michael Staton and fellow judges by Jenn Yoo

Final presentations on Sunday evening included a panel of familiar faces: Michael Stanton from Learn Capital, James Sanders from KIPP, Matt Pasternack from Clever, Jennifer Carolan from NewSchools Venture Fund and Alan Louie from Imagine K12. Presentations ranged from ZenGrade, an organization platform for teachers presented by 17 year old Fouad Matin, to an engagement tool called WordSprout for parents to use with their children.

Second runner up was Applsauce, the TripIt of education logistics. Socrafund was awarded second place and won the Clever API Challenge, by giving teachers easy access to microfund their classroom. Margaret Hagan led Hello Visa to first from an idea that started with gamifying the law and evolved into a navigation tool for immigrants. Team member and design engineer Jerry Lee believes the secret ingredient was in “finding a specific problem that we could answer.” 4.0 Schools, the main sponsor of the event, gave the winning team two free tickets to New Orleans for a weekend training.

The traditional Startup Weekend group shot by Jenn Yoo

The traditional Startup Weekend group shot by Jenn Yoo

It’s amazing what can happen in a room full of like-minded people focused on a single problem and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. For more details, check out our twitter feed.

– Organizers Chapman Snowden and Andrea Bustard