Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Our journey with Emerge Education

Back in February we promised to share a bit more on our participation in Emerge Education. Now half-ways into the programme, we have plenty to tell.

Even though the idea of Lexicum was growing in Stefan's head for several months, it all actually started taking shape in October 2013. This is when he shared his plans with Dimitar and Martin. Amidst the growing hype of edtech accelerators our team decided to reach out for support from the world's best. Emerge Venture Labs were just promoting the launch of their first educational cohort in partnership with the world famous Said Business School at Oxford University and Eton College. Throughout a very dynamic negotiation process we found ourselves in intensive preparation throughout the festive season to start our participation with Emerge Education in the middle of January 2014.

Our Emerge gang is based in Google Campus in an area that became known as the Silicon Roundabout. As the names suggest this is in the hearth of London's start-up hype and our hosts from Emerge do take the full advantage from it. We've found ourselves getting all possible sorts of support. We get to hang out with experienced entrepreneurs such as Sal Virani of Founder Centric, Ben Whately of Memrise, Ben Barton of Zondle and Jan Reichelt of Mendeley. We also get institutional advice from a number of big educational, legal, government, PR organisations and many many others. Of course, we also got some quite impressive introductions and a foot in the door of some investors of different scale. Given that London is known to be Europe's financial capital and the place with most attractive tax breaks for early stage investors in the world, such connections are quite an advantage. Finally, we got used to daily encounters with a swarm of educators and early adopters that are hungry for new tools to experiment with and promote to their networks. These are people that have used educational technologies throughout their lives and are very valuable in their judgement what works and what doesn't.

On top of all people that Emerge Education brought to us, the experience wouldn't have been the same without the insightful collaboration with the other start-ups in the cohort. Our cohort features six companies that all are very bold in their plans to change the way people around the world learn. Here is a short introduction of the other five teams making us company:

Learned By Me is an online language tutoring company that connects top professors from the developing world with students from the Europe and the U.S. for £9 one-on-one Skype classes. It launched with Spanish lessons with tutors who are exclusively university professors and immersion school teacher in South America.

Reward System is a points-based online behaviour tracking system that employs positive feedback to improve student behaviour. Initially built whilst one of the founders was working in a school through collaboration with parents, teachers and pupils it has had a marked impact on improving behaviour. This led to a comment from Ofsted saying that Reward System "enables pastoral leaders to monitor very effectively students' successes and areas for development". The service is free for individual teachers and has premium add-ons including integrations and analysis features for school managers and leaders.

Ellumia is an innovative mobile learning platform for adults, designed to work on any smartphone. It provides a way for people to learn new skills on-demand, with support from other learners and instructor guides. It’s targeted at people who do not have the time, money, or geographic access to tertiary education.

NurseryBook removes the hassle of paper, taking nursery schools online. This allows teachers to capture observations with just a few taps and communicate them with parents.

Edhub is a free online dashboard for teachers to quickly and easily manage and access online apps.

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