NYU Steinhardt and StartEd Accelerator Collaborate

NYU Steinhardt and StartEd Accelerator Collaborate to Put Educators at the Forefront of Innovation

StartEd Companies, Inc. recently announced a collaboration with New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development to support further innovation in edtech, set to launch in October 2016.

The accelerator and incubator on NYU’s Washington Square campus is now accepting applications for the October 2016 class from companies focused in all stages from Pre-K through lifelong learning. Each of the 10 companies selected for the program will receive up to $170,000 in funding.

The intensive, three-month mentor-led acceleration program will provide mentorship, coaching, legal services, development expertise, sales consulting, and business development in the sprawling Greenwich Village location.

Co-founder Ash Kaluarachchi says that StartEd’s focus on putting educators at the forefront of innovation is what sets them apart from competitors.

“Educators are not always part of the conversation about problems in education, and when they are included in the conversation, the product have already been given to them,” says Kaluarachchi.

“What we want to do is make sure that that conversations comes up much earlier at the development stage when a company is at problem definition.”

Besides educators, there’s a push to get corporate heads involved in the conversation. According to co-founder Doug Lynch, StartEd is hoping to find a company that can tap into the corporate education field.

“We’re probably the only ones who have played a significant role in the corporate space,” he estimates. “The corporate learning folks are frustrated that they’re not seeing much innovation in their space.”

By providing a network of funders, entrepreneurs, policy makers and researchers who are all supporting each other, Lynch is confident that one of the chosen companies will be able to soothe that frustration.

Perhaps Lynch’s confidence comes from the unique application process, which he looks at as a “screening process.” The application requires a 1-minute video of the founders speaking about their product, free of “screenshots or post-production wizardry” and scripts.

“We’re really looking for [a] dynamic and diverse team,” says Kaluarachchi. “We’ve actually seen a high correlation between diverse mindsets and backgrounds correlating to really understanding the complex education space.”

Lynch adds, “What we’re trying to do is find people with interesting ways of looking at the problem, and casting an eclectic net.”

While the net is currently being cast in New York City, Kaluarachchi hints at a larger, global network in the future. He sees the class of 2017 (and beyond) expanding from the urban campus.

“We would like to have conversations with organizations both within and outside of the United States for launching similar initiatives. That could be with NYU—NYU has several global campus’ and we may partner with other organizations of higher education,” explains Kaluarachchi.

Kaluarachchi laughs and says it’s too early to tell what is going to come from the class of 2016, but he’s looking forward to cultivating the relationship between StartEd and Dominic J. Brewer, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of NYU Steinhardt.

In a press release, Brewer says, “As the nation’s first ever School of Pedagogy, NYU Steinhardt has actively participated in 125 years of innovation in education, particularly here in New York City. We see the edtech incubator and accelerator as a natural extension of that ongoing commitment.”

Kaluarachchi says that StartEd has been working with the tech and business school, but the Accelerator and Incubator are Steinhardt initiatives led by Brewer.

The space will will be a launch in September on the Washington Square campus. There will also be a Barracuda Bowl in late October for companies that want an opportunity share their ideas, even if they are not part of the StartEd community.

Applications due by August 31, 2016. 

Gretchen Kuhsel

Gretchen Kuhsel

Gretchen Kuhsel is a junior journalism student at Emerson College, where she is the assistant lifestyle editor at The Berkeley Beacon. Her work has also been published in various campus magazines and The Connecticut Post. When she’s not writing, she’s spending far too much time online shopping or balancing upside down on her yoga mat.