In November, the Foundation helped the Library host Startup Weekend EDU, which brought together a community of people focused on solving problems related to education. Our business librarians were available all weekend to provide reference and research support to 90 education technology entrepreneurs.
During the first session, all participants — college students, educators, designers, engineers, and business people — gathered in the Central Library Reading Room to pitch their ideas for a product that would impact education. Participants then formed teams around the 10 strongest ideas and got to work crafting a viable product and business model to present to the public on Sunday. The teams worked throughout the weekend, researching market trends with librarians, validating their ideas by interviewing potential customers and stakeholders, building models and websites, seeking advice from mentors and coaches, and crafting a final presentation to show the event judges.
Each of the 10 presentations was well thought out, creative, and high-quality. Several teams created websites and platforms that were fully functional. It was awe-inspiring to see how each team worked together to accomplish so much in just one weekend.
The judges at the event awarded third place to Campfire, the crowd favorite, an idea to bring an immersive experience to children’s books. Second place went to Class Volt, a platform where teachers can share ways they successfully use technology in the classroom. Finally, the first place prize went to Floop, a tool that allows students to submit assignments through mobile devices and get instant feedback from their teachers. These top three teams each won prizes to help them continue their business startup ideas.
The larger aim of Startup Weekend is for all participants to network, exchange ideas, and learn important skills and concepts for starting a business. Thanks to support from The Seattle Public Library Foundation, the Library became an entrepreneurial think tank for the weekend and 10 ideas were developed into budding business startups that have the potential to create jobs and fund our economy.