Startup Weekend Education San Francisco (SWEDU-SF)

    Friday, October 19 - 21, 2018

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Judges
  4. Coaches and Mentors
  5. Sponsors
  6. Organizing Team
  7. Blog
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Startup Weekend Education San Francisco (SWEDU-SF)

Friday, October 19 - 21, 2018

Friday, October 19 - 21, 2018
Event starts at 6:00 pm

Make School
555 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Shaping the Future of Education

The Theme: 
Groups will work together to address innovation in education and communities.   

The Event:
Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU) is a global network of passionate educators, students, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers working together to solve important problems in our education system. In 54 hours, participants share ideas, form teams, and turn ideas into realities. Startup Weekend Education begins with open-mic 60-second pitches Friday night that result in the formation of small teams around the best, most viable concepts. Teams spend Saturday and Sunday focusing on customer development, validating their ideas and building prototypes with the help of experienced coaches. On Sunday, teams demo their education products and receive valuable feedback from a panel of expert judges.

We're excited to bring SWEDU back to SF for the first time in three years. Since our last event in 2015, 1st place winner Literator has provided students with a personalized literacy education in over 3,000 schools in 48 states, and they continue to scale globally. Clever, an idea born from SWEDU Santa Clara, powers learning technology in over half of America's public schools.  

"SWEDU offers an opportunity to problem solve for educational equity and has created a community of passionate individuals with diverse skill sets to bring solutions to life. It's surreal to be sitting in our company's office space--in the same building I first pitched the idea, first learned what a wireframe was, recruited my first team--now, as a founder of an award-winning edtech venture." - Xiaohoa Michelle Ching, former OUSD teacher, founder of Literator & Forbes 30 under 30 & 30x100 (2018)

"My experience that weekend really showed me the possibilities, especially in education and my four walls, to rethink my obstacles and connect with other professionals of all fields to bring my students the equitable education they deserve."
- Nina Portugal, OUSD English Language Development Teacher

"Startup Weekend Education was a life changing experience for me. Not only was I able to connect with really awesome and talented people; I also gained a wealth of knowledge and skills that I've used to advance my professional life and my passion project. Startup Weekend hosts a magical and welcoming community of creative and innovative folks who are enthusiastically looking to connect and build on great ideas. I would highly recommend the experience to anyone who is even remotely interested in tech entrepreneurship. It's a guaranteed to take you to the next level."
Tamyra Walker, Director of Recruitment and Retention, #YesWeCode

Do you have an idea you'd like to pursue or a problem you'd like to solve but don't know where to start or who to start with?

Techstars Startup Weekend Education is the place to form a team, create a prototype of your idea, learn from potential users and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend. The idea you pitch doesn't have to be an edtech tool! We also encourage building community resources, learning spaces, or school programs. 

Techstars Startup Weekend Education is a full weekend-long experience. Your ticket includes:
  • 7 full (and delicious) meals (and coffee!) over the course of the weekend
  • Benefits and discounts from our global partners
  • A SWEDU SF T-Shirt + other great SWAG
  • One-on-one time with amazing mentors
  • The opportunity to win awesome prizes
  • A new network of developers, designers, educators and entrepreneurs eager, like you, to shape the future of education
Watch the video below to see what you can expect, and click on the “Buy Ticket” button to register now! As only 120 tickets are available, we encourage you to claim your spot ASAP. 


What are examples of past projects?
Here are some examples of technology tools. This event will also be open to school site innovations and learning space design.
  • Literator - providing real-time insights into student reading performance
  • Emote - helping school communities work together to meet students' emotional needs
  • TalkingPoints - connecting teachers with families in multiple languages
  • Vidcode - teaching programming through video art
  • Diversity Talks - student-led, culturally responsive professional development to help educators understand the perspectives of students
Do I need to pitch an idea to participate?
Nope! While roughly 1/3rd of participants end up pitching (whether they intended to, or just came up with something on the spot), you're more than welcome to sit back and listen, then join the team that makes you feel most inspired to take action. 

Can I work on an existing project?
If you've already started building or prototyping your project/startup, you will not be eligible to participate with that idea. Our goal is to have every team start their project from scratch over the weekend. We do encourage you to spend time researching and thinking about your idea before you arrive—just not building it out yet.

Other questions? Email our organizing team at


Friday October 19th

6:00 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

6:30 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

7:00 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

7:30 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

9:00 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

9:15 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

10:00 pm
Begin Work
Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work at Make School as late as 11PM.

Saturday October 20th

8:30 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:00 am
Begin Work
Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
After-lunch check-in, status reports, call for help

2:00 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

6:30 pm

7:30 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

10:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work at Make School as late as 11PM.

Sunday October 21st

8:30 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am

10:30 am
Coach Meetings
Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

4:00 pm
Final Presentations

6:45 pm

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

9:00 pm
Wrap-Up & Go Home (or Go Celebrate!)
You've reached the end of an amazing weekend. Get some well-deserved rest or go out and celebrate with your team!

Event Judges

Lindsey Blass
Personalized Learning Environments Program Manager for San Francisco Unified School District

Lindsey Blass is the Personalized Learning Environments Program Manager for San Francisco Unified School District. Serving the largest, public, urban school district in the Bay Area, Lindsey develops systems and processes to leverage technology and learning environment design to promote academic and socio-emotional growth for all students, with an emphasis in reaching historically underserved student populations. As Adjunct Faculty for Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College and a Google Certified Innovator, she is a leader in the field of educational technology. Lindsey is a sought after speaker on the topics of Gamification and Game-Based Learning. She believes that learning should be FUN for both teachers and students and strives to create dynamic and engaging learning experiences that inspire lifelong learners. Lindsey is the recipient of the ISTE 2018 Online Learning Network Award.

James Kim
Investor at Reach Capital

James is an investor at Reach Capital, an early stage VC supporting innovative edtech companies. Previously, he served as Assistant Director at Yale Undergraduate Admissions, Chief Academic Officer at 12+ (non-profit start-up focused on college access), and high school math teacher at the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex in Providence, RI. James holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar; an MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education; and a BS cum laude in Astrophysics from Yale University.

Andrew Sutherland
Founder & CTO of Quizlet

Andrew Sutherland is the founder and CTO of Quizlet, the user-powered learning platform used by more than 40 million students and teachers each month. Andrew founded Quizlet in 2005 while a sophomore at Albany High School in California, originally building a simple website to help himself study French vocabulary. He studied computer science at MIT, which he left after three years to continue working on Quizlet. As CTO, Andrew is in charge of building the technology that powers more than 300 million study sets and allows millions of students to learn more efficiently. In 2012 and 2013, he was featured in Forbes Magazine's 30 under 30 List for Education.

Coaches and Mentors

Reina Cabezas
Career Technical Education Coach at Oakland Unified School District

As a Bay Area adopted native, it is an honor come back as a Start Up EDU alumni.  I came to the Bay from Nicaragua as a political refugee like many of my students and their families today. We share life experiences of struggle and resistance so I aim to co-design learning opportunities that help us all shape counter-narratives that keeps resistance alive in the face of abuses of power.

Today I am a Career Technical Education coach for Oakland Unified School District and support students and teacher teams shaping the ways Oakland students learn about and how to engineer through liberatory pedagogy. Lastly, as a mother of two beautifully creative teenage men, I pour my heart, mind, and spirit into teaching and learning our way toward an empathetic and compassionate world, reclaiming their space and duty to defend land and life.

Gee Kin Chou
Co-Founder of The Boombox Collaboratory & Former CTO @ Oakland Unified School District

Gee Kin Chou is the co-founder of The Boombox Collaboratory, a non-profit that enables Americans to use their personal contacts to help high school students broaden their career horizons. He is also an educational technology consultant who helps both technology companies design and market products and services for education, and school systems to exploit technology to improve student achievement and increase operational efficiency.

He serves on the Advisory Board of several edtech startups, and is a contributing writer for He was formerly the CTO of Oakland Unified School District and has also served as the interim CTO of Pasadena Unified School District. 
Gee Kin has worked in education since 2003 when he co-founded ViKiwi, a consulting firm that applied business best practices to reform education, and has helped more than a dozen large, urban school districts across the US evaluate, purchase and implement technology to improve student achievement and increase organizational efficiency. 

Nihal ElRayess
Senior Technology, Communication, and Strategy Consultant

Nihal ElRayess is a senior technology consultant focusing on a variety of areas ranging from communications, design thinking, user experience, strategic roadmapping, project and product management, to people management and empowerment.
Her current primary client is Sephora Americas where she works on high stakes internal communications for the Office of the CIO, as well as, other initiatives including several that emphasize diversity and inclusion in tech and professional development. Recently, she has also successfully run campaigns soup to nuts, including for a local political candidate.
In her down time she co-chairs the board of a local district non-profit foundation, The YES Foundation, recently overhauling its brand, and as a member of its leadership, helping to drive $1.1M in annual fundraising to ensure essential programming for its district public schools. 
Prior to these recent endeavors, Nihal worked for many years in the education space, most of that time on the Teach For America technology team. In February 2012, she was  the lead organizer for one of the early Startup Weekend EDU events. She loves to mentor early stage ventures, and has informally advised countless entrepreneurs on how to pitch their idea and tell their story.

Greg Ko
Director of Technology at Castro Valley Unified

Greg Ko is currently the Director of Technology at Castro Valley Unified.   He leads the district towards increasing innovative teaching and learning practices for teachers and students.  Greg has cut his teeth in education serving 10+ years as an elementary school principal.  His passion in education is to learn and find ways to help bring technology and education closer together to support equity in public education.   His aim is to lead a change in developing powerful curriculum and useable educator tools within the corporate community where this innovation is happening, while simultaneously interfacing with educators about technology. Greg received his BA and MA from UC Berkeley and is a proud graduate of the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI). 

Leonard Medlock
CEO of of Playback Worldwide

Leonard Medlock is chief executive officer of Playback Worldwide, a design and technology firm that creates informal learning apps and opportunities at the intersection of popular culture, social justice and education; and General Manager at Cambiar Education. He was previously a founding team member and director at EdSurge where he built products and services to help K-12 administrators find and select education technology.
In the summer of 2013, Leonard served as designer-in-residence for the ESI School Design Fellowship, a New York City Department of Education initiative to rethink high schools for at-risk black and Latino males, which launched three new public high schools in the Fall of 2014.
Leonard developed his learning design skills a coach and lecturer at the Stanford and a research assistant at Stanford’s Project Based Learning Lab, where his work on global teamwork and collaboration was published in the International Journal of AI & Society. He moonlights as a coach and advisor for organizations such as Camelback Ventures and the Aspen Youth Leadership Fellowship, supporting social venture founders and projects through the lens of human-centered design.

Diana Phuong
Director of Partnerships

My mission is to inspire joy and develop the next generation of active, adaptive, global-minded change makers. I am fiercely committed to education, leadership, and inclusion for equitable outcomes. I am passionate about building community relationships. My work focuses on developing deep partnerships for greater social impact. I have provided hundreds of high-quality training for adults and youth, thought-leadership for efficient systems-level change through data analysis, and have successfully managed multiple marketing channels to elevate company branding and revenue growth.

Vinit Sukhija
Principal, Learn Capital

Vinit Sukhija is a Principal at Learn Capital. He previously led Teach For America’s Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Initiative, where he supported and invested in over 200 early-stage education entrepreneurs, launched Teach For America’s first social entrepreneurship conference in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and was named to Forbes’ 2015 30 Under 30 in Education.Vinit boasts a diverse range of experiences at the intersection of education, technology, and entrepreneurship, including serving as a Senior Product Manager at Amazon, an Investments Fellow at The Chicago Public Education Fund, a strategy consultant for the Charter School Growth Fund, a judge and coach for numerous Startup Weekend EDU events and business plan competitions, an advisory board member for two education non-profits, and a high school mathematics teacher in the South Central and South Gate communities of Los Angeles. He graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and earned his MBA from MIT Sloan.

Cosmo Wolfe
Engineering Team Lead @ Clever

Cosmo Wolfe is an engineering lead at Clever, where he helps build the platform that powers edtech applications in almost half of US schools. As part of his role he is often working with and advising educational companies across all stages of growth. Before Clever, Cosmo worked as a software consultant in the Midwest, helping early stage startups get off the ground.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Education San Francisco (SWEDU-SF) team is grateful for the support of local community partners without whom this event would not be possible.
Learn how to become a sponsor here.


Organizing Team

Techstars Startup Weekend San Francisco is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Christine
  • Kaity
  • Jessica
  • Katie
  • Angela
  • Melissa


Jessica Falkenthal
Education Community & Growth Marketing Strategist

Jessica Falkenthal leads growth marketing, community building and experience design for education startups, schools and nonprofits. She serves on the SXSW EDU Launch Advisory Board and CUE SF Board.
Jessica loves creating engaging education experiences and  previously managed a dozen online learning communities, coached early-stage education entrepreneurs, grew the Startup Weekend Education program worldwide, founded her own education startup, led professional development workshops for hundreds of educators, and designed and taught technology classes for the Boys and Girls Club and 4-H Youth Development programs. She is also a community organizer for the SF Edtech Happy Hour, 4-H, Startup Weekend Education, and Education Startup Digest.

Lee Ngo
Educational Technology Community Architect

Lee Ngo is an educational technology community architect and founded his startup Scholar Hero through Startup Weekend. Previously, he served as Regional Manager for UP Global (acquired by Techstars) and has worked for educational organizations such as Strayer University, Galvanize, and Metis. Lee is currently the Chief Operating Officer with the Greater Foundation (

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