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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 (s yhoo) co-founder David Filo, Angela Filo, LinkedIn (s lnkd) 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.