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Summary:

After a year of building up its network and creating its curriculum, ed tech accelerator Socratic Labs this week debuted its first cohort of startups.

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New York already has a lot to offer an aspiring ed tech entrepreneur: the country’s largest K-12 school district, numerous colleges and publishing houses and a red hot tech scene. But now the city has one more feather in its cap: a new startup accelerator exclusively for education technology.

Over the past year, Socratic Labs has been quietly building up its network of partners, crafting a curriculum and recruiting startups. This week, the accelerator officially launched, debuting the first eight companies accepted to the program.

The accelerator follows the Y Combinator and TechStars model – accepted founders get mentorship and support, desk space, perks and little bit of capital ($15,000 to $20,000) in exchange for equity. But Heather Gilchrist, Socratric Labs’ founder, said she and Ashantha Kaluarachchi, the program’s operating director, spent a lot of time creating a curriculum that tackles the specific challenges of ed tech entrepreneurs.

“It was really important for us to reimagine this from the ground up,” said Gilchrist, a former director at ed tech company Grockit. “We looked at what companies really need – a traditional program can’t dive into all the unique sales cycle issues with ed tech, for example.”

During the program, founders will learn all the startup basics, like lean-agile development, fundraising and entrepreneurship best practices, but they’ll also spend a good deal of time on topics like design-thinking for education, the science of learning and ed policy.

In the past few years other vertical specific and ed tech accelerators have popped up around the country – from Imagine K-12, which launched in Palo Alto three years ago to LearnLaunchX which made its own debut last week. But Gilchrist said each city has its own “chemistry” and for companies looking to partner with a big school district or to get closer to publishing companies, New York offers a lot of opportunity.

Socratic Labs’ first cohort of eight companies was selected from a pool of 80 to 100 startups. Here’s a little information about its new class.

Careerosity – A career-focused Q&A site (almost like a career-specific Quora), Careerosity’s goal is to use a crowd-sourced, user-curated model to answer students’ questions about undergraduate majors, first jobs and career transitions.

Edventory – As ed tech tools proliferate, Edventory wants to help teachers discover the apps and tools that can help them and learn how to use them.

LearnMetrics – A real-time analytics tool, LearnMetrics aggregates and then analyzes data from all kinds of ed tech products to help teachers uncover insights they can act on.

NuSkool – Citing a 50 percent high school dropout rate, NuSkool uses video game- and pop culture-inspired content to keep students engaged.

PenPal News – PenPal News aims to connect students from different parts of the country while engaging them with standards-aligned current events content.

StudentLoanHero – Through StudentLoanHero’s web-based platform, the startup provides students with information on how to manage and pay off their loans, as well as tools to help them do it.

Teachley –  Launched by a team of education data researchers and cognitive science Ph.D.s, Teachley creates high-quality apps designed for elementary school classrooms that are based on cognitive research.

Unbound Concepts – Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, Unboound Concepts analyzes all kinds of text to determine its reading level and helps teachers identify the text most appropriate for their students.

  1. Heather Gilchrist Thursday, February 7, 2013

    Thanks, Ki Mae!

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  2. Great Post! What an awesome collection of start-ups…cheers to Socratic Labs for making it all possible

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  3. Great article, and great event! Excited to see what the future holds for all of the companies in the first cohort.

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