After recently announcing it would award $100,000 for education startups, the Lean Lab on Thursday unveiled the five entrepreneur teams that represent its third cohort.
The non-profit for the first time opened its fellowship program to accept international teams, reaping it more than 50 applications — some from as far as Iran and Bulgaria, said Katie Boody, co-founder of the Lean Lab.
The decision to open applications to entrepreneurs outside Kansas City wasn’t a calculated decision, Boody said.
“It really wasn’t intentional,” she said. “Our recruitment strategy centered on leveraging our national partners — 4.0 Schools and Village Capital — and recruiting at education startup events throughout the Midwest. We were pleasantly surprised at the response.”
Founded in 2013, The Lean Lab each year accepts five new teams of fellows into its summer incubator, which develops education entrepreneurs’ ideas to improve education. The month-long program connects educators with Kansas City schools and mentors to solve specific problems in education.
The Lean Lab will award program fellows up to $10,000 in seed funding and an additional $25,000 for the top two teams. The organization aims to fuel projects and ideas that will close achievement gaps and build a better future for public-school students.
The third cohort looks to be especially promising, Boody said.
“We are looking forward to the sophistication of the teams,” she said. “We have strong technologists, educators and project managers in this year’s cohort, and I’m personally excited to see the amount of progress they will be able to make in 4-and-a-half weeks.”
Here’s more on the five new teams:
PledgeCents | co-founders Andyshea Saberioon and Kevon O’Rear from Philadelphia and Memphis: PledgeCents created a free fundraising platform to help parents and teaches raise money for student resources beyond what school budgets can cover.
InReach | co-founders Angie Rivera, James Cordes and Zach Layng from Chicago: InReach helps high school students make informed decisions about college through access to peer-to-peer information.
Meedu | co-founders Brice Jensen, Bob King, Doug Tree and Nadja Cajic from Kansas City and St. Louis: Based on the outcomes of Startup Weekend EDU, Meedu will create a point-of-sale program, and web and mobile app that gamifies school lunches so parents and K-5 students can more easily make educated, healthy food choices.
ClassTracks | co-founders Lida Zlatic and Thierry Uwilingiyimana from Washington, D.C.: ClassTracks provides online foreign language tools that focus on lower-order learning, which emphasizes memorization and basic understanding. The tool allows high school teachers to spend more time on lessons.
Brydge | co-founders Mehreen Butt, Richard Pettey and David Wilson from Jackson, MS and Tuscaloosa, AL: Brydge is a web and mobile app that enhances household access to classroom curriculum by allowing parents to engage with content and collaborate with teachers.