Companies I’m psyched about helping
Right now something that feels like about 98% of my waking hours goes into helping to building RG Labs. However, from time to time I come across companies that I feel are doing special things and have taken advisory roles with them. This post, which I’ll update from time to time is a listing of those companies, what they do (in my words) and why I’m psyched to do what I can do to help them out.
Altius Education – I met Paul Freedman, Altius’s founder, a couple of years ago and was very impressed with his vision for Altius. One of the biggest mismatches of supply and demand in higher education is at the community college level. Community colleges historically have offered an affordable way for high school graduates to continue their education and for many, to eventually transition into four-year universities. However, with budget cutbacks and rising costs, many community colleges are forced to turn away a lot of interested students. This is where Altius comes in, offering an affordable way for students to receive their Associates degree in an online setting and eventually have a chance to transfer to a desired school to complete their Bachelors degree. Altius is backed by CRV, Maveron and Spark Capital.
Certified Business Laureate (CBL) Exam – I’m a big fan of people who are looking to disrupt the credentialing space. When I met Guy Friedman and heard about his plans for CBL, I saw a very big opportunity. There are many people out there who possess the business knowledge that’s roughly the equivalent of an MBA, however there’s no chance for them to really prove this. CBL will offer that opportunity and has the potential to be a fast-growth competency-based credentialing model, similar to Western Governor’s University which has grown tremendously in the last decade. (AngelList profile for Certified Business Laureate Exam)
Fatminds – The first time I met the Fatminds guys they pitched their idea as Kayak meets Yelp for Continuing Education and I was sold pretty quick. The continuing education market is a multi-billion dollar one and gets a lot less attention in the education space than say, test prep or tutoring. I think that’s largely because most people don’t encounter continuing education until later in life, after the age at which it’s typical to start a technology company. Fatminds has an extraordinary amount of potential and has already partnered with schools such as MIT and USF. (AngelList profile for Fatminds)
Prazas – I think one of the biggest opportunities in K-12 education is a lower-cost approach to tablet computing. The iPad is obviously going to be transformative for many students but unfortunately, it’s too expensive for most schools to justify putting one in every student’s hand. Android-based platforms offer affordability and because of the open source nature of the platform, an opportunity for entrepreneurs to innovate outside of third-party restrictions. I’m psyched about anybody working on tablet computing for children and am happy to be helping out the Prazas team.
Udemy – I encountered the Udemy guys (Eren Bali and Gagan Biyani) back when I was running eduFire. While our visions were similar, Udemy has taken a somewhat different approach to democratizing education. Udemy offers packaged courses such Eric Ries teaching about The Lean Startup and Zed Shaw teaching Python the Hard Way. These are rock-solid courses offered at a fraction of the cost that you’d pay to a university for similar content. It’s a highly disruptive model and one that is really starting to gather steam.
I’m really excited about these companies and while I wish I could clone myself to give them more of my time, am happy to be able to provide them with whatever help I can.