Education gets schooled by startups at the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator

I’m excited to announce the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by TechStars this morning. Kaplan will host ten companies focused on education technology and product innovation for an intensive three-month program in New York City this summer. The program will be housed just a few blocks from our TechStars NYC office in the West Village-SoHo neighborhood from June to September 2013. Mentors include Udemy CEO Eren Bali, Kaplan’s CEO Andy Rosen, Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson, General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz, Benchprep co-founders Ashish Rangnekar and Ujjwal Gupta, Nick Ducoff (Boundless Learning), Brad Feld (Foundry Group), Sree Sreenivasan (Columbia University), Phil Weiser (Former Senior Advisor for Technology and Innovation to the National Economic Council Director at the White House, Dean of CU Law School), Matthew Greenfield (Managing Director of Rethink Education), myself, and many more industry leaders in the edtech space. Companies will receive $20K in seed funding, introductions to angel investors and VCs and access to Kaplan’s extensive network of resources; schools, students, tools, and research.

Kaplan has been a long-time champion of startups and has been very supportive of the TechStars community generally. We’re looking for teams that support ongoing learning, certifications, continuing education, and, in Kaplan’s words, any startup that harnesses the latest learnings from the fields of science, instructional design, and technology to support the development of highly effective, evidence-based learning products. Teams aren’t limited to traditional classroom education nor K-12. We’re looking for teams that are thinking outside of the box on a big scale. Education needs to be schooled.

Details about the program are available at

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Help Fund the Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park

We all felt the impact of the loss of Jessica Ridgeway. As a celebration of Jessica’s life, there’s an effort going on to renovate her neighborhood park in 2013.

The City of Westminster has collaborated with the family on the design and has committed $200,000 in cash and in-kind services. The total cost of the project is $450,000. Current partners include Jefferson County, Westminster Rotary Club, Heinrich Marketing, and Westminster Public Safety Recognition Foundation.

My wife and I just made a donation. You can also help the community and Jessica’s family heal with a tax deductible donation to a beautiful park in her honor. To do so, just visit the Westminster Legacy Foundation and be sure to note that your donation is intended for the Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park.

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Denver PUC is being Uber-Annoying

If you’ve ever ridden in an Uber, you know it’s a great innovation. Now Denver’s PUC is trying to shut Uber down by inventing new rules targeted directly at it. It’s a sickening defense of a poor incumbent.

How can this be bad?

Image from


Right! Who needs clean, comfortable rides on demand from your smart phone anyway? Please read this, and then take the actions suggested there (also they are below). You can make a real difference and teach the Denver PUC the same lesson that community leaders supporting Uber have already taught similar groups in places like Boston and Washington DC and others: that the people of Colorado won’t stand for protectionist actions that prevent innovation.

If you haven’t tried Uber, here’s $10 off to try it out. Help us keep Uber in Denver along with other great cities of the world such as San Francisco, New York, LA, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, DC, Vancouver, Toronto, Paris, Milan, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Dallas.

There are several things you can do right now.

1) Contact Gov. Hickenlooper and tell him, “Save Uber in Colorado! Withdraw PUC Rules Changes to sections 6001, 6301, & 6309.”

Email Gov. Hickenlooper

Write on Gov. Hickenlooper’s Facebook Wall

2) Contact the Colorado PUC Directly:

Email Joshua Epel, Chairman

Email Doug Dean, Director

3) Sign the petition that shows the PUC your #UberDENVERLove.

Disclosure: I’m an early angel investor in Uber.

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TechStars NYC – Welcome Eugene Chung

TechStars NYC is on a roll. I couldn’t believe my eyes when more than 500 companies applied on the last day of the application period (about one company every three minutes!), bringing the total to just under 1,700 companies. Man, do we have our work cut out for us! There are some amazing companies in this mix this year and narrowing them down is going to be an enormous challenge. This all starts tomorrow with a day long our selection meeting in NYC where we will get down to a manageable set of finalists.

Nicole Glaros has been spending much of her time in NYC lately, and she will be on the ground there full time starting in April for the duration of our Spring program. I’l be spending a great deal of time in NYC as well and both Nicole and I will be helping teach the ropes to the new Managing Director there who we announced earlier today, Eugene Chung.

To say that Eugene has thoroughly impressed everyone at TechStars is simply a massive understatement. We interviewed 35 candidates for the Managing Director role and in the end the choice was obvious to us. His passion and energy are contagious, and everyone we talked to who had worked with Eugene had amazing things to say about his hustle and work ethic. I experienced Eugene’s creativity and hard work first hand during our extended interview process. Let’s just say when he sets his mind to something, he’s pretty tenacious. Eugene was previously at NEA where he worked on NYC-area companies BuzzFeed and Bedrocket, and before that he was at Warburg Pincus and Morgan Stanley. He’s got a great background as an investor and we’re simply thrilled to have him join the TechStars team.

Eugene put his thoughts about joining TechStars on his personal blog this morning.

I couldn’t be more excited about the growing team at TechStars which is now over thirty nationally. I get to work with the most amazing people every day. Great companies. Great mentors. And a great and growing team here at TechStars.

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My favorite TED talks

I recently picked some of my favorite TED talks for a story that ran on Mashable. Here’s the post on Mashable if you want to check it out. I would have embedded the actual talks here, but I want Mashable to be rewarded handsomely in page views for their efforts, and thus, I must redirect your butt over there. Enjoy.

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Common Pitch Chile

I’m really looking forward to my upcoming trip to Santiago, Chile where I’ll be speaking about startup communities at Common Pitch Chile along with some incredible people including Al Gore, who is the keynote speaker. (I’m very excited to have lunch with him and learn all about the Internet!)

This is the first time Common Pitch will take place in Latin America, and it will also be the first festival of its kind in Chile. The three-day event kicks off on November 29 with Start-Up Chile Demo Day, and continues with tons of interesting workshops, good music, and more than 20 speakers, including Charly Alberti, Tom Chi, and Dan Burrier.

The finale is on December 1, when eight social entrepreneurs who have been selected for a final pitch round will present on stage and compete for a prize of $35,000. This will be followed by an after party that I’m sure will be awesome.

I’m really excited about participating in the conference, meeting lots of cool people, learning about the community, and playing some tennis on the red clay with my new friends from Startup Chile. I also want to thank my friends from NorthSur for helping organize the trip.

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