LearnLaunch Accelerator Picks Startups in Games, Payments, & Books

The opportunities for new technology to improve education are much broader than assisting the core interactions between student, teacher, and subject matter. Edtech startups are trying to solve problems in everything from administrative operations to educational affordability.

Boston’s LearnLaunch Accelerator is one example of the mix of ideas sprouting from the edtech industry. The organization today announced the seven companies selected to participate in its fourth session, taking place this fall. Collectively, they serve the entire continuum of education, from K-12 through higher education, as well as continuing education. The group includes companies in gaming, children’s books, online payments, tutoring, college admissions, and more.

“We continue to see innovation that both touches the learning process—so you kind of think of them as closer to curriculum-oriented products—and also a whole lot of innovation that we would probably say is a mix of things that have to do with the business process of the education industry,” says angel investor Jean Hammond, a LearnLaunch co-founder and partner.

LearnLaunch combines an accelerator, a co-working space that currently houses more than 40 companies, and a nonprofit institute that hosts events and other programming for edtech startups, Hammond says.

The accelerator invests $18,000 in each company, in exchange for a 6 percent equity stake. Companies also receive desk space in LearnLaunch’s co-working facility for six months, help with bringing their products to market, and access to a pool of more than 100 industry experts. The program will conclude with a demo event in January.

Eighteen of the accelerator’s 19 graduates are still in business, Hammond says, and 14 of them have raised more funding after the program. None of the portfolio companies have been acquired or gone public, however. “We’re still pretty early in our life,” Hammond says. LearnLaunch was founded in 2012, and the accelerator held its first session the following year.

Here’s a look at the latest crop of LearnLaunch companies (pictured above):

Affordable College, based in Atlanta, created a “transfer student marketplace” that helps connect community colleges, four-year universities, and students trying to complete a bachelor’s degree.

—Boston-based Bab’l Books uses crowdsourced translations and print-on-demand technology to “make bilingual children’s books accessible to anyone, anywhere, in any language.”

Cashtivity of Melbourne, Australia, created a digital tool to help students learn about business. The product can complement class projects like student-run businesses, organizing community events, or running a fundraiser, the company says.

Learning Games Studios, based in Alexandria, VA, is an educational games studio led by a team with experience in the learning sciences, instructional design, and video game development.

—New York-based Menlo Learn provides an online platform that offers tutoring and college admissions consulting services for students worldwide.

Skookii, of Tempe, AZ, sells software that helps parents of K-12 students more easily pay for school expenses like uniforms, lunches, and after-school activities.

—Boston-based TeachersConnect created a mentorship and collaboration network to help strengthen the relationship between organizers of K-12 teacher prep programs and their new-teacher alumni.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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