Q&A: Startl Co-Founder Outlines Strategies for Startups
As one of three co-founders of Startl , a nonprofit organization funded primarily by several U.S.-based philanthropies that helps educational technology businesses get off the ground, Laurie Racine has been the group's source of expertise on entrepreneurial theory. Ms. Racine is a self-proclaimed addict to startup culture, according to the website of the New York City-based group, and she has wide-ranging experience as a founder and fundraiser for new businesses herself. But Ms. Racine concedes she is still learning the nuances of the education market, and still feels very little is known about what business ventures in educational technology will prove most successful. Education Week Staff Writer Ian Quillen interviewed Ms. Racine to ask her about the difficulty of describing what Startl is to people who know nothing about it, the upswing in attention to education innovation over the past two years, and the biggest challenges facing businesses in K-12 education. (The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation, all supporters of Startl, also provide grant support for Education Week .)
The idea behind Startl can be difficult for some people to wrap their heads around. If you meet someone who is unfamiliar with Startl, what is your elevator speech?
That's been the problem of Startl since the very beginning. The intent of Startl originally was to spend two years exploring what would be the hot-button approaches, methodologies, to catalyzing innovation in the education space. What we didn't count on is that we were quickly and only slightly ahead of the curve; that the market and the interest in innovation in education and entrepreneurism in education were going to happen so fast as we were doing this; that the three proposed models we were thinking about actually were going to be tough to launch in conjunction with each other. What education needs is a destination, an incubator-like approach that takes kids in their garages or kids coming out of their design schools or people who are more advanced in their career and want to make a switch and really want to focus on driving the next kind of technological innovation in education....
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