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Edtech startups can compete for investments

Village Capital and AT&T is calling for edtech ventures to develop technology-driven solutions for students.

Yizhu Wang
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Yizhu Wang Intern - EdScoop

Yizhu Wang is a graduate student completing her studies at the University of Missouri and currently working as an intern at EdScoop, a division of ...

Companies like the Workers Lab, which provides financial resources and training to fledgling edtech entrepreneurs, is mentoring startup competitors.

Emerging edtech companies are in high demand.

Village Capital, an organization that helps entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, and AT&T Aspire, the education arm of the telecom company, announced a program on Monday to boost edtech entrepreneurs in Chicago and Baltimore.

The three-month program, called Village Capital Education US 2016, calls for edtech ventures that offer technology-driven solutions to develop students' academic skills and help them get ready for careers. It will launch in June, according to a press release.

The program features three week-long workshops in which entrepreneurs can seek advice from mentors in their fields, and meet potential strategic partners and investors. Women and minority-led ventures are especially welcomed.

“Entrepreneurs play a major role in empowering student success and helping young people across the world prepare for the jobs of tomorrow,” Anne Wintroub, director of social innovation of AT&T, said in a statement. “Village Capital’s programs strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the US, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them.”

Two winning companies among approximately 15 competitors will receive money from Village Capitial’s peer-selected investment model. At the end of the program, participants will rank each other according to six criteria, including product refinement, team-building and financials.

Village Capital will offer the top two companies $75,000 each in pre-committed investment. If the company secures a co-investor, the winning companies will receive $100,000 instead.

Fifteen veteran investors and experts in edtech will comprise the advisory board, including Stacy Childress of NewSchool Venture Fund, Greg Gunn of Lingo Ventures, and Carmen Rojas of The Workers Lab.

Local startup incubators in Chicago and Baltimore will convene the program, including Impact Engine, 1871, LEAP Innovations and Towson University Incubator.

"Chicago and Baltimore respectively are growing cities and possesses rich opportunities for entrepreneurial innovation in the education sectors," Nasir Qadree, Head of Village Capital’s Education practice, said in a statement. “Both cities are fully prepared to provide the best possible environment for entrepreneurs."

Applications, which will be reviewed on a rolling basis, are due on April 22.

Reach the reporter at yizhu.wang@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @yizhuevy and @edscoop_news.

Correction: April 11, 2016. An original version of this story incorrectly stated the pre-committed investment to the two startups. It is $75,000, not $100,000, unless Village Capital secures a co-investor.

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Education IT News, Edtech, Higher Education, K-12, AT&T, AT&T Aspire, Village Capital

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