TeacherGraph Streamlines Parent/Teacher Communication

Education, Startups, TeacherGraph

Memphis kids have already been back in school for a week and a half now. Kids across the country will return to school in the next month, and parents know that means tons of paperwork.

I homeschool my 3 boys now, but I remember the mountains of paperwork my oldest brought home last year. Often 5 or more sheets a day including notices, announcements, and progress reports. And that was just one kid!

Our dining room table was buried under mountains of papers I didn’t really need, and the recycling bin needed constant emptying. And, honestly, I so rarely paid real attention to them that I often had to email the teacher or room mom to double check dates and times. (I’m sure they loved that.) I remember thinking that in our modern world, it was ridiculous there were still so many papers coming home.

I think the guys at TeacherGraph read my mind.

The Austin startup, founded by former Facebooker Joseph Van and Tony Le, officially launches in 3 days, on August 17th. The system allows schools or teachers to enter information once and be delivered to parents in the digital format they prefer. The platform will also enable schools to analyze data, such as the correlation between communication activity and academic performance.

Edtech startups are a mixed bag. Across the country people are thinking a lot about how to improve our schools, and that means smart people like Van and Le are thinking up solutions to every problem imaginable. And, as my story above indicates, school communication is definitely a problem.

The challenge for TeacherGraph will be adoption. Schools are notoriously bureaucratic, and it can be extremely hard to get in with a system. Van and Le probably figured that out, as they used UT Elementary Charter School for their beta testing. Charter schools are an easier market for tech startups because they can make decisions without consulting a larger school system. It was also a smart move because charter school parents are often more engaged than typical elementary parents.

The other challenge for TeacherGraph (and most other edtech startups) is competition. The field–only recently opened–is now full of companies trying to beat each other to the punch. Companies like EduBuzzer and Remind101 also have their own takes on parent teacher communications, and all 3 companies are competing against entrenched–if outdated–systems that are hard to route out.

Still, TeacherGraph is addressing a problem so obvious we often forget it’s there. I like the idea of information being delivered in the format parents prefer, but without extra work for the school. They’ve made great progress with their beta, and the addition of data analysis could be interesting for teachers and schools trying to do the best for the children.

To learn more about TeacherGraph, check out their website or follow them on Twitter.

Dell And Their Entrepreneur In Residence Ingrid Vanderveldt Join Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference

Austin is no stranger to startups and innovation. Neither is Dell. While some may consider Dell just a hardware company, in the 1990’s they broke record after record with their trusted, reliable mail order computer business.

One thing that makes Dell a unique company is that the company, along with their CEO Michael Dell isn’t afraid of iteration, trying new things and moving on. That’s one thing that has made Dell successful time and time again.

Dell has an entire team dedicated to entrepreneurship, startups and innovation. The team is led, in part by Ingrid Vanderveldt the company’s entrepreneur in residence. Vandervelt is a respected serial entrepreneur, who lives by a mantra she calls the “triple bottom line of people, planet and profits”.

Vanderveldt is working on a new venture while simultaneously serving as Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence. She is also keeping up with her current companies Green Girl Energy and the GLASS Forum (Global Leadership & Sustainable Success).

Ingrid Vandervelt, Dell, Austin, startup,everywhereelse.co the startup conference

(photo: dell.com)

Back in June Vanderveldt came up with the idea for the Dell $100 million dollar Innovator’s Financing Fund. Vandervelt and the EIR board at Dell oversee the disbursement of the fund that’s helping startups in a variety of spaces.  The fund’s first startup was Current Motor, a Michigan startup that is developing electric powered scooters.

Current Motors is using the financing from Dell along with Dell’s mentorship and other resources to create an e-commerce platform for their scooter business that can operate entirely on a mobile device the way shared biking apps and apps like ZipCar work today.

Dell will be on site throughout the entire conference. Representatives from their innovation team will be around to talk to entrepreneurs, founders and even investors about innovation and starting up. Members of their team will also hold office hours in the Dell Lounge which will be adjacent to the Startup Village. In the Dell lounge  attendees will be able to hear more about Dell and their commitment to entrepreneurship, relax and get some work done.

Tuesday February 12th will open with a keynote from Vanderveldt, a highly sought after speaker in the startup and entrepreneurial world. She will talk about Dell’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship, her own journey in entrepreneurship which started in the 90’s and about being a woman entrepreneur. Her discussion will lead into, what’s looking to be one of our most popular panels, Kick Ass Female Founders from Everywhere Else.

Need a ticket or a startup village booth for the conference use the tool below. For more info on the conference click here


Interview: Austin Transplant Startup Sprockster Is A Great Place For Kids And Families

After getting my start in media at the age of 12 for Radio Aahs (the precursor to Radio Disney), naturally kid focused startups occasionally catch my eye, especially when their done well, and with a little TLC.

Sprockster is one of those great kid and family focused startup. Sprockster is a gateway to family friendly entertainment. They have a collection of over 1,000 kid friendly songs, hundreds of music videos and they’ve promoted over 600+ family friendly events. Sprockster is reminiscent of the newest version of MySpace (post Justin Timberlake) except guaranteed family friendly.

Co-founder Jesse Atwell tells nibletz.com:

“Sprockster is an online community dedicated to the discovery and promotion of new and emerging family entertainment.  Initially focused on kids’ music and kids’ music videos, the site features 1000+ streaming songs, 500+ original music videos, and has promoted 600+ family-friendly events.  Sprockster’s users include parents, educators, artists, brands, educators, video producers, etc.  Our artist members have profiles that typically include streaming songs, videos, upcoming tour dates, pictures, current news, and more.  Any user can create an account and contribute and engage with artists and other users.  If you’re looking to explore, discover, and talk about new family-friendly entertainment, Sprockster is the place!”

There’s definitely a hole in aggregation services for family friendly entertainment.

“…If you visit iTunes and search “Kids Music” the first song you get is “Kids” by MGMT.  I LOVE iTunes and “Kids” by MGMT is a great, GREAT song.  One of my favorites.  But it’s not very helpful if you’re looking to sample, explore, and discover the next Laurie Berkner or Dan Zanes.  That’s not necessarily a perfect example, but ‘Family Music’ is a special case and definitely deserves its own neighborhood in the musical townscape . . . the main point being that not everything you find on traditional platforms is family-friendly and there’s a need to kind of clear the clutter.  This is what inspired Sprockster and – ultimately – what we are trying to solve” Atwell said.

Atwells co-founder is his wife. She has a background in child development while he has an extensive background in entertainment marketing and digital production development.  Before founding Sprockster Atwell held positions at Sony Music and Hallmark Cards.  While there are already sites dedicated to the discovery of music like iTunes, MySpace, and Pandora, the Atwells couldn’t find a solution dedicated to just family entertainment.”

More after the break
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VC Investment In Austin Texas Jumps 47% In Q1 While Many Cities In U.S. See A Decline

Austin Texas is the place to be for startups every March during the annual South By Southwest Interactive festival. Startups from across the country, and the globe spend anywhere from $10,000 to several hundreds of thousands of dollars to have the biggest pop during the festival. Well what about the Austin startup scene the rest of the year?

We all know about Austin success stories like that of GoWalla who sold their company in an acquihire to Facebook. They shut the service down this year during SXSW before relocating to Paolo Alto. However there are a lot more startups in Austin, how many? Well there’s an Austin startup list website that lists over 1400 startups, ranging from easly stage companies to those that are funded or on the brink of acquisition.

While the rest of the country saw an 18% decline in venture capital investments and deal volume fell 9% over the same period last year, Austin saw a 47% increase in venture capital funding during the first quarter.

Austin venture backed businesses tallied up $250 million dollars in 32 financings in the first quarter, reports the Austin Business Journal.

That number was fueled by three huge deals. Apollo Endosurgery got a $47.6 million dollar investment.  In February Kinner Software received a $40 million dollar investment and in March Pivot3 Inc saw an investment of $23.3 million dollars.

source: Austin Business Journal

Austin Named Best City For Small Business For Third Year In A Row

The Business Journals, you know the local tabloid sized weekly business newspapers, have selected Austin Texas as the best city for small business for the third year in a row. Raleigh NC, Oklahoma City OK, Houston Texas and Salt Lake City UT followed behind Austin this year.

Sure Austin is home to two mega festivals every year with South By Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits, but it’s their year round support for local small businesses that has earned Austin this title, yet again. The actual scoring factors by the Business Journals were; growth in population, private sector jobs, per capita concentration of small businesses and the number of small businesses. The Business Journals declared a small business having 100 employees or less.

Austin’s strong number of startups of course contributed to this winning. Website austinstartuplist.com has found over 1400 companies that are in their startup stages and call Austin TX home.

Every year hundreds of startups flock to Austin’s SXSW Interactive festival hoping to get the buzz that Twitter, and Foursquare once garnered. Startups like Zaarly (2011), Highlight and Glancee have pulled traction out of the Austin festival but not the way Foursquare and Twitter have.

Austin is also a hot bed of acquihires the most notable being Facebook’s purchase and relocation of Gowalla from Austin to Paolo Alto.

We’ve spoken with several Austin based startups who sometimes feel like Austin’s startup scene is hot only in March. They’ve got some great companies, startups and events, all that we’ll be covering here at Nibletz as the voice for startups everywhere else. As for not being hot year round, Business Journals obviously thinks they are.

source: Inc