Kaplan EdTech Accelerator

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HOW DOES THIS WORK?


The Kaplan EdTech Accelerator is a program created to accelerate startups building companies focused on education. Each selected company will receive:

  • A $20,000 equity investment from Techstars

    A $20,000 equity investment from Techstars

  • An optional $150,000 convertible note from Kaplan, which all accepted companies can elect to take

    An optional $150,000 convertible note from Kaplan, which all accepted companies can elect to take

  • Office space provided by Kaplan in New York

    Office space provided by Kaplan in New York

  • Mentorship from top entrepreneurs, investors, industry influencers and Kaplan executives

    Mentorship from top entrepreneurs, investors, industry influencers and Kaplan executives

  • Market insights and feedback loop from Kaplan’s base of 1 million active students and 10,000+ instructors

    Market insights and feedback loop from Kaplan’s base of 1 million active students and 10,000+ instructors

  • Real access to decision makers

    Real access to decision makers - Kaplan has relationships with 300+ U.S. school districts, 20+ university partners worldwide

  • Access to Kaplan’s Learning Science group, providing valuable instructional design resources

    Access to Kaplan’s Learning Science group, providing valuable instructional design resources

  • Demo Day presentation to angel investors, VCs & media

    Demo Day presentation to angel investors, VCs & media

At the end of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by Techstars, each team will participate in a demo day pitch, presenting to critical stakeholders in the edtech community of angel investors, venture capitalists, mentors, education industry leaders and potential business development partners from Kaplan and across the education industry.

WHO SHOULD APPLY?


Any technology-powered startup looking to change education for the better. Some great examples are below but don't feel like you have to fall in one of these categories to apply:

  • Education-related apps (iOS, Android, Windows)

    Education-related apps (iOS, Android, Windows)

  • Education Platforms (Mobile and/or social learning, online instruction, collaboration tools)

    Education platforms (mobile and/or social learning, online instruction, collaboration tools)

  • Curriculum & Learning (Adaptive/personalized learning, core and supplemental curriculum, online learning systems)

    Curriculum & learning (adaptive/personalized learning, core and supplemental curriculum, online learning systems)

  • Instruction (Test Prep, Tutoring, Training, Courses, Online courses)

    Instruction (test prep, tutoring, training, courses, online courses)

  • Tools for Students & Teachers (Student Information Systems, Learning Management Systems, Student Recruitment & Job Placement Systems)

    Tools for students & teachers (student information systems, learning management systems, student recruitment & job placement systems)

  • Other Cool Stuff (Assessment systems, credentialing systems, games, content)

    Other Cool Stuff (Assessment systems, credentialing systems, games, content)

  • And any other technology-powered education companies. Surprise us!

    And any other technology-powered education companies. Surprise us!

TIMELINE

  • Application Deadline
  • Application Deadline
  • Application Deadline
  • Application Deadline
  • Application Deadline

Apply Now

MEET YOUR MENTORS


Here are just a few (click each mentor to see a bio)


SUMMER 2013 CLASS

Degreed "jailbreaks the degree" by helping students and professionals fully track all their academic, professional, and lifelong learning accomplishments. Watch the video >

Flinja is a platform for students to build skills and gain relevant work experience by completing projects for startups and big companies alike, and for employers to test out this qualified talent. Watch the video >

Mathify is reinventing the digital textbook by transforming traditional math problems into highly interactive activities and games. Watch the video >

MentorMob creates communities of informal learners that save students time by helping them map out the best online learning resources for the skills and knowledge they wish to master. Watch the video >

Modern Guild provides online career guidance and mentoring for students, so that they can jumpstart their career readiness, beginning in high school and through college. Watch the video >

Newsela provides an innovative way for students, at different grade and skill levels, to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that's always relevant: daily news. Watch the video >

PanOpen provides colleges and universities with the tools and services required to successfully adopt open educational resources (OERs). Watch the video >

Ranku is a discovery engine for 100% online degrees offered by traditional universities. Watch the video >

Uvize is a service to help military veterans succeed at college academics. Watch the video >

Verificient Technologies provides continuous identify verification solutions at scale for online test takers. Watch the video >

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

GENERAL OVERVIEW

What types of businesses is the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator focusing on?

The Kaplan EdTech Accelerator is for technology-oriented companies whose businesses are aimed at the education market. The focus is to allow companies to leverage resources from both Kaplan and the broader education industry to drive progress in education. Companies in any area of EdTech are encouraged to apply.

How are the final 10 companies chosen? What are the criteria?

The Kaplan EdTech Accelerator is looking for focused, well-rounded teams with strong, thoughtful ideas.

What makes the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator different from the other education-focused accelerators that are out there?

Two things: Kaplan + Techstars.

The education industry presents unique challenges for market entry (navigating competition from non-profits, multiple layers of regulation and accreditation, complex district relationships, measurement of high stakes outcomes and multiple stakeholders, including teachers, students, parents, administrators and regulators).

We believe that it is essential for startups to be guided by an experienced industry veteran like Kaplan to be successful in navigating this complex market. We think it is equally essential that startups receive the guidance and mentorship of experts in building companies and a go-to-market strategy, and no one is better qualified to do that than Techstars and its extensive mentorship network.

The Kaplan EdTech Accelerator combines the expertise and mentorship network of the top startup accelerator with the broad industry experience and global reach of one of the world's leading education companies.

What role is Kaplan going to play in the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator?

Kaplan is funding the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator program, and has partnered with Techstars to help deliver a high quality experience. In addition, Kaplan is providing top mentors from the Kaplan team to work with the companies and Techstars is activating its global partner community to help support these startups.

Startups will glean invaluable insight and resources from Kaplan’s broad, global reach. To give you an idea, Kaplan:

* serves over 1 million students each year - from first graders learning to read, to professionals seeking post-graduate training

* has nearly 400 locations in more than 30 countries

* has relationships with 300+ U.S. school districts and 20+ university partners worldwide

* has 10,000+ instructors

* has thousands of corporate customers

* has relationships with the U.S. Department of Education and many other education regulatory bodies as well as regional, national and programmatic accreditors

We believe startups accepted into the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator will benefit tremendously from these resources. In addition, Kaplan is providing space and other resources to each of the companies. In short, Kaplan wants to help startups that share our goal of moving education forward and has built the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator for that purpose.

What are the networking and educational opportunities provided during the three months?

Techstars will organize a variety of personal and group opportunities with mentors, entrepreneurs, angel investors, legal experts, venture capitalists, investment bankers, and others in a variety of forums. In addition, Kaplan executives and alumni will visit on a regular basis and provide early feedback and opportunities to participating companies. All of these sessions will be very informal and give you plenty of time to interact with the mentors personally.

In addition, about two or three times per week we will organize an informal dinner and invite our mentors to speak on a relevant topic. These will be presented as appropriate by highly successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, legal experts, venture capitalists, investment bankers, etc. Sometimes, we’ll just organize a brief talk with Q&A by a CEO or CTO of a well-known startup. We’ll even venture out to some of these companies and do the session there.

Will all the mentors come from Kaplan?

No. Kaplan will contribute mentors that have strong competencies across the education spectrum, though most mentors are successful entrepreneurs and investors who are experts in specific areas of education or related technologies and many of them have prior experience as mentors at Techstars. There is no intent to constrain the mentors to one specific area or set of companies. Our goal is to create very broad industry and investor support for the selected companies.

Outside of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, how else does Kaplan support early-stage education companies?

Kaplan has an active venture capital fund that invests in and supports early-stage education companies. See www.kaplanventures.com for more information.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Is my age a factor in your selection process?

No.

Is my company “too far along” to apply to the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator? Or “too early”?

Unlikely. We’ll accept companies starting with fully developed products and funding. We’ll help them with business model, introductions, financing, and more. Likewise, nothing is too early. We’ll accept companies with no more than an idea and a dream.

Do I need to send in a business plan?

No. Just fill out the informal online application - that's all you need to do for us. In fact, we probably don't want to see your business plan if you have one.

When is the deadline to apply and what's the overall timeline?

The application process opened January 20th. First deadline for early applicants, April 4th. Final deadline, May 5th. Apply Now.

How do you choose which companies to accept into the program and to fund?

We will choose great founders who are proposing products that solve real problems or create meaningful innovations. For us, it’s about the team. Because of this reason, we’re less likely to accept single founder companies. The best things you can do to strengthen your application are:

* Round out your team with business, technical, and other necessary skills.

* Make progress on your prototype or product and reference it in the application.

* Show us you’ve really thought about your business and have gotten moving to do something about it.

How does a company apply and be selected for the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator?

Applications and schedule are available at www.kaplantechaccelerator.com.

When will the final Kaplan EdTech Accelerator companies be announced? How many will be selected?

Ten companies will be selected and notified approximately one month before the program start date. Please see the schedule on the web site at www.kaplantechaccelerator.com Participants must meet all requirements to be contacted and commit their presence for the accelerator (i.e. get Visas, etc., if required).

LOCATION

Where is the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator office and what's it like?

The Kaplan EdTech Accelerator is held in New York City. Kaplan will provide fully equiped office space.

Do companies have to be in New York for the entire 3 month period?

The program requires participants be primarily based on-site in New York during the program in order to take advantage of the numerous learning opportunities, networking and coaching that will be provided.

Do these companies have to stay in New York when the program ends after 3 months?

No.

TECHSTARS

What is Techstars?

Techstars (www.Techstars.com) is an elite mentorship-driven start-up accelerator. Founded in 2006, the Techstars philosophy focuses on deep mentorship, and surrounding a small number of companies with highly engaged members of the entrepreneurial ecosystem to coach and support them for success. The Techstars community currently includes more than 300 mentors, more than 1,500 investors and over 120 alumni Techstars companies. Techstars currently operates five programs each year in Boulder, Boston, Seattle, Texas, and New York. Techstars is funded by more than 50 venture capital firms and 25 angel investors.

Why did Kaplan partner with Techstars on this program?

Techstars is one of the leading technology incubators in the world and has a program that brings business ideas to market. Their network of proven entrepreneurial mentors and connection with investors makes them a great place for companies to bring innovative ideas and turn them into exciting businesses.

What is different between a Techstars City program and this industry vertical program focused on education?

The industry vertical programs are 100% Techstars programs – Techstars brings the full power of their know-how, network and startup experience to benefit your company. All founders will be part of an exclusive Techstars founders network. The added benefit of this industry vertical program exists in the deep partnership between Techstars and Kaplan, one of the world’s leading education companies. In addition to the benefits that all Techstars companies receive, Kaplan provides unique access to deep expertise and relationships across the education landscape.

LOGISTICS

What is the timeframe for this program?

Our first program completed in September 2013. Follow us on Twitter and visit this site for announcements about our 2014 program and related timelines.

How does the application process work?

The application process is online and includes a few simple questions about the company and the team comprising the company. Applicants are also asked to provide a video that describes their team and business.

When is an investor demonstration day?

Kaplan and Techstars have a strong network of industry leaders, investors, and venture capitalists who are invited to our demonstrations days. Check out a video from our 2013 Demo Day here.

Does Kaplan provide housing for Accelerator participants?

Techstars will provide a list of possible locations, but participants need to make their own living arrangements.

Does my product need to launch through or relate to Kaplan?

No. While Kaplan is happy to make our vast array of diverse, global education resources available to startups that are accepted into the program, our only requirement is that you share our goal of moving education forward.

Can I apply if our company or founders are not from the USA? Can you help with visa/immigration issues?

Yes. Anyone from anywhere can apply. You do have to be legally in the U.S. during the program, of course. Once accepted, Techstars can help with legal/immigration issues by leveraging Techstars' contacts and network to help. However, no assistance can be provided in advance of acceptance to the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator.

FUNDING

How much funding do companies in the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator receive?

Each company receives up to $170,000 in total funding, including a $20,000 equity investment from Techstars and a $150,000 convertible note from Kaplan that all accepted companies can elect to take. You also get great perks such as free hosting and services, a quality workplace and more. There are real benefits in the connections and deep mentorship that you’ll receive when you engage your company with the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, and also in the opportunity to pitch to angel investors, venture capitalists, industry influentials and Kaplan executives at the end of the program during our Investor and Demo Day.

In exchange for the program and the $20,000 seed funding, Techstars receives 6% equity in the form of common stock. Many people ask what sort of controls the stock granted to Techstars in exchange for the funding and accelerator program includes. This is common stock and as such it includes no special rights or provisions beyond what the founders themselves receive. This means that no board seats, unusual voting rights, veto rights, or other controls are involved.

In addition, Kaplan offers an optional $150,000 convertible to each company.

Why does Techstars get stock in these companies?

Techstars has direct experience running successful startup accelerator programs across the country, and as a result was chosen by Kaplan to partner on this project. In exchange for overseeing the day-to-day operation of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator program and providing on-going mentorship and guidance after completing the accelerator cycle at Kaplan, Techstars will receive 6% equity in the form of common stock in each of the participating companies.

How can participants receive funding after the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator ends?

Near the end of the three-month program, there will be an Investor Demo Day where Kaplan executives as well as angel investors, venture capitalists and influential industry leaders from around the world see the companies and listen to pitches.

Techstars provides the seed funding to get you going, but you may well need more funding to really make it. Near the end of the three month program, there will be an Investor Demo Day where Kaplan executives as well as angel investors, venture capitalists and industry influentials from all over the country will check out your company and listen to your pitch. You’ll be coached so you’re as effective as possible, and we’ll do everything we can do help get you follow on funding. We anticipate that with the backing and mentorship provided by Kaplan and Techstars, the participating companies will have ready access to additional capital.

What if my company doesn’t ultimately succeed?

Well, at least you tried. Because not just anyone is accepted into the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator program, you’ll have an impressive resume item for your next gig that will look way better than almost anything else you could have spent your time doing. And you will have met a large number of smart and well-connected people who can help you tremendously with whatever you do next.

LEGAL

Does Kaplan retain the intellectual property (IP) developed during the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator?

No. Kaplan does not retain IP developed during the program. The IP developed by a participating company is retained by the company.

If Kaplan does not retain IP, why is it sponsoring this program?

Kaplan is focused on driving positive change in education, and we are thrilled to help any company that shares that objective. Some Kaplan engagement with the select Kaplan EdTech Accelerator companies may evolve but is not a key element of the accelerator.

I’m concerned that if I apply, you won’t protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?

No. We won’t show your application to anyone outside of the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator team. We will see hundreds of applications, however, and many of them include similar ideas. For this and other practical reasons, please don’t ask us to sign an NDA. Our application does not ask for your “secret sauce”, and there is no reason you have to disclose this to us if you’re not comfortable doing so.

How detailed does my idea need to be in the application?

In this initial application process, we ask applicants to describe market opportunity, the team, the idea and how to execute. We openly discourage applicants from submitting their business plans or "secret sauce."

Is a participating company's product or service guaranteed to be distributed by Kaplan?

No, there are no guarantees. Participating in the program will allow your company to develop a concept with the opportunity to leverage Kaplan resources if/where possible. The Investor Demo Days will provide an opportunity to show off concepts to Kaplan, investors and leaders in the education and tech communities.
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