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Ed-Tech Networking Platform Connects Inventors With Investors

The Center for Education Reform is raising funds to update, a social networking platform designed to connect ed-tech developers with the capital and tech teams needed to create new digital learning tools.

A screenshot of edmaven's home page
As K-12 school districts continue investing in new digital learning devices and platforms, young tech developers are looking to cash in on the ever-growing ed-tech market. And while there’s no shortage of new ideas for digital tools to enhance learning, many lack the capital and technical teams to make those concepts a reality.

To help get new ed-tech ideas off the ground, the education advocacy organization Center for Education Reform is raising funds to update, an online social networking website that connects educators, investors, entrepreneurs and ed-tech companies to create new products.

CER founder and CEO Jeanne Allen said the site has accumulated close to 1,000 beta users since its launch last year, but she hopes to attract at least 100,000 by 2022. The platform launched a Kickstarter fundraiser campaign Monday to raise $60,000 for new upgrades, including enhanced talent search functionality, an investors hub and an expanded content library, among other features.

According to Allen, the free subscription-based site uses artificial intelligence to connect users with similar ed-tech interests and goals. She said the tool works much like a “LinkedIn-meets-Facebook” for ed-tech developers and educators looking to collaborate with each other or find investors.

"Rather than having to bump into somebody at a conference or connecting with a person by phone who happens to know somebody else, we cut through the friction and get you where you need to be with somebody," she said. "That's what makes this different and more dynamic than any other connection or other social [networking] platforms."

The current beta version of the platform launched last year after Allen and Michael Moe, co-founder and partner of the merchant bank GSV Asset Management, discussed creating a space to facilitate collaboration between ed-tech developers and others hoping to get involved in the growing digital-learning market. The two partners assembled a team of designers and programmers to upgrade and maintain the site.

“We used the opportunity over the last year to create the foundation, and we [initially] wanted to get some feedback and followers while we put some time into the actual meat, which is the AI capacity to connect people," she said.

According to Allen, the goal was to establish a “go-to site for people with ideas we need to accelerate education innovation." She said she wants to open the field up to innovators with little experience or connections in education technology circles.

"We want to democratize the education technology field," she said.

Allen noted that the platform could eventually develop additional premium features available for purchase, as well as a new cryptocurrency specifically for edmaven. The details of these add-ons remained pending as of Tuesday.

"We're looking into it now, and we think we've figured it out, but it may take further development," she said of a cryptocurrency feature.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.