Los Angeles – August 2nd – The USC Rossier EdVentures program has completed its first cohort, providing 16 ed-tech companies from around the globe with mentorship and other support. These student- and alumni-founded companies – as well as companies from five countries – mostly run by minorities and women, are developing products that enhance educational and financial opportunity.
USC Rossier EdVentures aims to strengthen companies that take a holistic and diverse approach toward conquering obstacles often faced in education. By mentoring company leaders and connecting them to potential investors, EdVentures unlocks a variety of strategies and products that benefit learners in early childhood, K-12, postsecondary, and adult education programs.
“Simply by emphasizing diversity and focusing on quality, we were able to get an unparalleled cohort of companies who are already doing amazing things. The number of world-class mentors in the program is a reflection both of the quality of the cohort and the support innovators have for the Trojan family,” said Doug Lynch, managing director of the program.
USC Rossier School of Education Dean Karen Symms Gallagher initiated EdVentures as part of Rossier’s Center for Engineering in Education (CEE). EdVentures is run by a team of managing directors including Anthony Maddox, Dean Kline, Doug Lynch, James Bottom, and Julie Slayton, and an investment committee including George Straschnov, John Brooks Slaughter, and Phil Kim.
The program collaborates with many centers across USC’s campus, such as Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, Incubate USC, the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Marshall School of Business, Center Edge at the Rossier School of Education, and the Student Entrepreneurship Education Program at the Viterbi School of Engineering.
EdVentures is supported by Michelson 20MM, Bisk Ventures, and Novitas Ventures. Additional funding and services are provided by Cooley LLP and Microsoft.
The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars entrepreneurship program helps USC students succeed. Open to all students and alumni in all majors, the campus-based Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars enables participants to access mentoring, grow their network, and access the resources to accelerate the success of their business.
The companies included in EdVentures’ first cohort are:
- Akilah, located in Rwanda, is a distinguished higher education institution for women. Akilah helps hundreds of women become ethical leaders in fields ranging from finance, technology, eco-tourism, and more. The organization has expanded to include Davis College, a network of personalized, affordable, and market-relevant higher education in Africa and Asia.
- Ampligence is a technology that boosts your efficiency learning and solving math or any math-related subjects, up to 10x more efficient. It upgrades all math-related information-exchange to fully digital like never before. You will no longer need any paper material or calculator for any math purpose.
- APoll01 is software for building and managing communities, while curating experiences for each community member. APoll01 can manage entire sets of communities, such as a university, a school system, a company, or even a country. Our software establishes portable and interoperable user profiles, enables private and secure mobile voting, incentivizes participation, and delivers roll-up reporting at every community level. Your APoll01 profile will be the last online profile you ever have to make, enabling a lifelong, personalized journey through education and work.
- Educational math tools, specifically, the graphing calculator, are outdated and painfully expensive. ClassCalc believes that all students should have equitable access to tools that make math easier, not harder. Since the beginning, ClassCalc grasped that unlocking the power of mobile devices was essential to making its belief a reality. So we created ClassCalc – a powerful, test-safe calculator app with a “test-mode” that allows teachers to temporarily lock students on the app screen during tests and classroom sessions. This allows for an environment with no distractions and no cheating– only healthy, unburdened learning.
- CollegeBacker is democratizing access to higher education with a social investing platform that helps millennial parents conquer their #1 financial fear – paying for college – with help from family and friends. In just a few minutes, a family can open a 529 college savings plan and invite family and friends to help them grow their investment. CollegeBacker has already helped American families save millions – and their kids avoid millions more in debt – by making college savings simple and social.
- Equally is building engaging games for kids that encourage physical activity, personal development and exploration.
- A customizable WordPress Plug-In for creating and providing online courses.
- GIBLIB curates and creates high-quality medical education videos from subject matter experts at the leading academic medical centers and streams on-demand to medical professionals globally.
- Immerse developed the first virtual reality language-learning platform, connecting language students and language instructors live in virtual environments. Backed by research from some of the brightest minds in the language education community, the Immerse platform provides a learning experience in which students can move from review of language formulas, to task-oriented, real-life experiences that stimulates language fluency.
- Intervene partners with school districts to drive student academic improvement. Intervene uses comprehensive assessments and analytics to understand students’ skill deficiencies, then adapts to deliver personalized instruction to close gaps. Intervene uses a whole student approach, including Social Emotional Learning, Culturally Relevant Content, and Data Driven Instruction to grow and motivate students.
- LoanBuddy develops solutions that help college graduates optimize their student debt. LoanBuddy technology empowers financial advisors and borrowers with tools to calculate federal income-based repayment programs and track the certified months of Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Understanding this student debt lifecycle is crucial for grads working at nonprofits or in the government. LoanBuddy has an accelerating “Member Community” of 300+ Advisors, that now track over $150 Million of client student debt within the LoanBuddy platform. Innovative Advisors are incorporating student loan planning at their firms, helping better serve their communities and now any borrower can start using the LoanBuddy self-service portal for free to learn more about their options for their student debt.
About Mandarin X
- MandarinX provides an active online language learning experience for over 270,000 students. MandarinX bridges the gap between cultures by facilitating five in-house designed courses to help students understand different facets of Chinese life.
About Octagon Studio
- Octagon Studio is a tech company specializing in providing high quality Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) products, services, and solutions to elevate the education system in terms of engagement, interaction, and efficiency, as well as the fun factor. Founded in 2015, the Company has grown from a local to an international product. Along the way, we have made various AR Educational Flashcards Series starting from Animal (Animal 4D+), Occupation (Octaland 4D+), Space Exploration (Space 4D+), and Dinosaurs (Dinosaurs 4D+). These apps have been downloaded over one million times. The Space series flashcards were used by the UK Space Agency as a tool to inspire children to become astronauts. Octagon believes Dales’s theory of Cone Experience; we would like to elevate the education to a new level.
- Reto is a mobile platform customizable for any exam. Reto ENARM, our first niche, has helped more than 100,000 physicians to prepare for the Mexican medical residency entrance examination (ENARM). Reto ENARM features exclusive clinical cases, gamified interactions between users, a web simulator, and insights based on their performance. Reto ENARM was launched at the end of 2015 and it has been adopted by more than 100,000 users that accounts for more than 50% of the market. Reto MIR, our next product release, is for the Spanish Medical Board assessment (MIR). Reto Universidad will help high school students in Latin America prepare for college entrance examinations and Reto Bursatil will be used as a tool to prepare for Mexico’s finance and banking certifications.
- Studioso aims to simplify and promote music education through technology. Studioso provides a platform for music teachers and students to easily connect and plan lessons.
- UCROO helps organizations become more efficient by organizing their internal and external information (documents, notes, messages, links, etc.). Our platform is a new generation of portals that unifies users’ experience and makes data and content social and collaborative. Our first product, Campus, addresses a gap in the higher education market and efficiently replaces old student portals. How ironic is it that universities, of all places, while in charge of sharing and making sense of the world’s information, cannot organize their own information online? Better connection and access to personalized information lead to better outcomes for the students and higher rates of retention for universities.
Alex Bottom, Co-Founder of LoanBuddy, exclaimed that “We were proud to have been a part of the first USC Rossier EdVentures Cohort over the last year.” The collaboration with its leaders – Doug Lynch, Dean Kline, Anthony Maddox, Julie Slayton and my brother, James Bottom – had a profound impact to LoanBuddy.
“The curriculum was very friendly for virtual attendance and its personal configuration was very impressive,” continued Bottom. “Our experience with EdVentures especially benefited from the diverse education provided by the topical weekly meetings with business leaders; it allowed us to leverage their vast experiences. The USC Edventures Accelerator is a great starting point for an entrepreneur (not just a USC Grad) focused on solving problems in education. At LoanBuddy, we have developed software to help college graduates optimize their student debt and have been able to implement insights gained from the program in real-time; helping us think big while remained focused on growth and delivering our unique products into the marketplace.”
“USC Rossier EdVentures has been the product of over a decade of experience in encouraging sustainable entrepreneurship in education,” said Dean Kline, Managing Director of USC EdVentures. “We have taken the lessons learned from that experience and built a unique program at USC that achieved beyond our expectations across the board.”
“We were able to attract a diverse group of entrepreneurs with respect to their focus on learning challenges, ethnicity, sex, location, and stage of their companies. At the end of our six-month program they had raised over $13 million and impacted over 500,000 learners. We are accepting our second cohort applications for what will surely be another exceptional collection of learning entrepreneurs.”
The application process for the second cohort opens on August 5. Edtech entrepreneurs can apply here.
Credit: Danielle Kaiser & Samika Tara