From Lime Pickles to Startups: SWEDU Kansas City

01/24/2015 | By Carrie Markel

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Saturday, 1/24: Startup Weekend EDU - Kansas City

It's Saturday evening here at Startup Weekend EDU - Kansas City and we've already experienced a half-baked game of narwhals, lime pickles, and musical socks, along with 22 early-stage pitch ideas, 9 top-voted teams, and a total of 9 teams formed. Below you'll find the rundown and inside scoop on the innovation, collaboration, and caffeinated startups being born inside downtown Crossroads Academy's new 21st century school.  Interested in watching the final pitches? Buy a ticket to Demo Day and watch this group of talented educators, students, and entrepreneurs take Kansas City education by storm.


UNIverse is a platform to connect students to mentors to gain specific academic and career advice so that students can develop skills in areas related to their personal interests. 

Organizer's Notes: "What famous person would you love to have dinner with?" or so goes a classic ice-breaker question. UNIverse is attempting to take this question literally: what do you, as a student, want to know and who do you need to meet to get you there? Imagine meeting the Socrates of the 21st century, all for a lower price than college tuition. Can we go back to UNIverse(ity)? 


STUCCO is a platform for schools to document behavior incidents and collect data to drive effective interventions and student support.

Organizer's Notes: Beyond the amazing name (STUCCO), I'm excited for the potential to build data-driven, positive behavior support. Too often, school's behavior management systems focus on negative consequences or unintentionally reinforce negative behavior. STUCCO has the potential to change that using the same practices in data-driven instruction teachers are already using for academics. 

KC Tech Dojo (soon to be rebranded ;) )

Tech Dojo is a program that brings computer science and tech education directly to schools. 

Organizer's Notes: There are plenty of coding programs out there, so why don't all of our students know how to code? The Tech Dojo team is looking at finding a niche to answer this question and provide schools this valuable piece of 21st century learning for free. Yes, I said free. 

Partners in PD

Partners in PD empowers 21st century, teacher learning through adaptive, innovative tech tools for professional development.  

Organizer Notes: Partners in PD looks to address the bane of every teacher's experience with professional development by making content relevant and accessible beyond the school building. An exciting piece to this startup is the team's ideas on how to plug in to teacher training programs to prepare educators long before they even get to the classroom. 

Mobile Design Challenge

Mobile Design Challenge is an annual, student-driven, problem-solving experience that closes the divide between students in the urban core and suburbs of Kansas City through design challenges.

Organizer Notes: This team has faced many challenges already, but I think they're the dark horse of this competition. Their team leader unfortunately fell ill early on, but they've pressed through and have some amazing ideas. Stay tuned. 

My Learning

My Learning teaches the first character set of Hirajana, the basis of Japanese, in a game. Mastery is achieved in just 10 levels.

Organizer Notes: The ambition of this team is mind-boggling - to put a language's characters into ten levels, let alone guarantee mastery, seems hard enough. When you find out that Japanese has over 20,000 characters and that they want to eventually build a game that further teaches these characters...the possibilities seem endless.

Learning Ground

Learning Ground is a game that makes up remedial skills in math, geography, history, and communication arts.

Organizer Notes: Any technology that engages students, is adaptive, and remediates necessary skills is a slam dunk. The team is also exploring the parent-sided market rather than selling directly to schools - an interesting twist that they're looking to validate. 

Mobile Make

Mobile Make is a mobile maker space that improves STEAM education by providing lesson plans and real-world applications to skills necessary for the 21st century.

Organizer Notes: There's plenty of hype around maker spaces right now, but the mobile aspect of this startup, plus the focus on building lesson plans and curriculum rather than just providing raw materials could make any teacher AND student excited to see this truck pull up to their school.  


Pennez is a digital platform that focuses on improving urban core literacy through graphic novels that are culturally-relevant, differentiated, and adaptive to students' learning.

Organizer Notes: This team came prepared with research, anecdotal evidence, and a mission to make reading material culturally-relevant to minority populations. They're upfront, unapologetic, and more than necessary in every school in Kansas City. 

Join us tomorrow to see where these teams end up!