Launch recently announced a call for applications for tech startups working on disrupting the education space and were very kind to extend it to Canada. Last week, 31 amazing education startups launched or launched new products on stage at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View with several VCs, angels, education institutions in attendance.
In addition to great startups, the conference included great speakers like Nolan K Bushnell, Founder of Atari and Chuck-E-Cheese, and Marshall Tuck, CEO, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.
Judges included notable personalities like Robert Scoble, Wesley Chan of Google Ventures, and Christine Tsai of 500 Startups to name a few. And it was great to see three Canadian startups make a big impact at the conference.
1. Toronto-based PenyoPal is a platform that creates engaging learning experiences for kids and kids at heart—the founders call it “edu-play-tion.”
Penyo Pal was one of eight stealth startups, selected from over 300, and the only Canadian startup that was given the opportunity to launch onstage. They made great use of the opportunity on stage by teaching a kid volunteer some basic Chinese using their app. Penyo Pal was named “The Best Overall 1.0 Startup” by the judges.
“All of us are extremely passionate about education and using technology to improve its accessibility,” said Jane Wu, Cofounder and Chief Happiness Officer. “That passion, combined with 21 years of goofing off in Chinese school and playing games naturally led to Penyo Pal, where we combine language, technology and gaming to change the way people learn.”
2. Edmonton-based Showbie is like a digital work drop for the classroom. Students are increasingly demonstrating their learning by creating everything from presentations to videos and podcasts. Teachers need an organized place so this digital work can be effortlessly assigned, collected and reviewed. Showbie makes life easier for the student and teacher while promoting technology to enhance learning.
Over the two days, Colin Bramm, Founder of Showbie, pitched to more than 200 investors, entrepreneurs, teachers and district administrators who came through the demo pit, which gave him a great chance to refine his pitch and demo. Colin quickly learned his pitch had to be less than a minute to generate any interest.
Showbie received excellent interest, particularly from teachers and school district administrators who are implementing iPads and looking for a digital assignment workflow solution for their classroom.
“Launch Education and Kids was a successful conference bringing together a smart community of stakeholders who truly believe that education technology is one of the next major markets to be disrupted,” said Colin. “In the end, the kids will be the winners as new ways to learn and succeed will result. Showbie will be attending the next Launch Education and Kids event.”
Next up for Showbie is the ISTE 2012 conference being held in San Diego, CA June 24 to 27, 2012.
3. Toronto-based Notesolution is the largest notes sharing site for post secondary students in Canada with over 40,000 registered students sharing close to 75,000 study documents. In addition to enhancing one’s own education, Notesolution also allows users to earn rewards by uploading and sharing their original notes and study notes.
Notesolution recently graduated top of the class at Montreal’s Founder Fuel and has been making big waves in Canada, so it is great to see them get some love in Silicon Valley. At the conference, the Notesolution team not only connected with several VCs, angels, teachers, professors from Ivy League schools and other educators that were extremely knowledgeable in their respective fields, but also were able to get valuable feedback from all of them.
“It was also great to see other education startups and getting to meet some of the founders was an amazing experience,” said Kevin Wu, cofounder of Notesolution. “It’s hard to find other people that have the same amount of passion and excitement for startups all under one roof. All in all, it was a great experience, and we’ll definitely be back next year.”
Startups like PenyoPal, Showbie and Notesolution are doing a fantastic job representing Canada’s tech startup scene at an international level.