As we’ve noted before, ed tech accelerators have been popping up all over in the past few months. But Imagine K12 — a two-year-old startup program often referred to as the “Y Combinator of ed tech” — just upped the ante for the competition.
Instead of receiving $20,000 upon acceptance into ImagineK12, startups will now receive $100,000 each, thanks to a new Start Fund, the accelerator said. The newly-created Start Fund is funded by big name Silicon Valley types, including Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, Yahoo co-founder David Filo, Angela Filo, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig, as well as the NewSchools Venture Fund and GSV Asset Management. Startups will receive up to $20,000 from ImagineK12 and a convertible note for $80,000 from the Start Fund.
Since launching in early 2011, the accelerator said its 39 startups have raised more than $30 million in funding and it claims that its products are used by more than 10 percent of U.S. teachers.
Tim Brady, a co-founder of Imagine K12, said their goal is to not only give accepted ed tech startups a longer runway for adoption, but to make education more welcoming to entrepreneurs.
“It has a reputation as a difficult sector,” he said. “One of our over-arching goals is to make entrepreneurship in education as attractive as it is in other sectors.”
While $100,000 would certainly be difficult to turn down, other ed tech accelerators offering less capital aren’t without their selling points for aspiring education entrepreneurs. For obvious reasons, Silicon Valley is a great place to build a company, but education startups could also be well-served by building networks in other parts of the country.
Socratic Labs and Kaplan’s new TechStars-powered ed tech accelerator, both of which are based in New York City, offer education entrepreneurs the chance to experiment within the country’s largest K-12 school district and in the backyard of major content companies. And Boston-based LearnLaunchX is in close proximity to plenty of publishers, colleges and universities.