On October 4th, LearnLaunch and the Boston edtech community welcomed AWS Global Program Lead Katie Herritage and Program Manager Jeff Wickert to talk about Amazon Web Service’s new program for edtech startups, AWS EdStart. Leaders from emerging edtech companies across the greater Boston area came to the LearnLaunch Café to learn more about the cloud-based program, then moved to an evening pitch competition hosted by Cooley, LLC, where eight members of the AWS EdStart program pitched their innovative ideas to a room of investors and other edtech professionals.

So what exactly is the AWS EdStart Accelerator? The program provides engagement and support for early phase Edtech startups, focuses on positive student and learner outcomes, and makes it easier for companies to both find resources and manage peer relationships. From customized technical trainings to AWS joint marketing opportunities and mentorship, AWS EdStart provides assistance to the growing edtech startup.

According to Herritage, the program focuses on three main pillars: financial support, technical assistance, and community engagement. The AWS EdStart program provides financial support to companies on a case-by-case basis, and the specific amount that each member receives is based on their level of individual need. The platform also features an extensive customer support system for its members. Community engagement is also an importance piece of the program. However, even with community forums, peer relationships, and mentorship, there is an initial concern: How does an online program recreate that sense of face-to-face community that is vital for emerging startups to secure funding and succeed?

The AWS EdStart Pitch Day is part of the answer to that problem. Live events serve as a vital community engagement piece that allows members to form connections with other entrepreneurs, industry experts, and investors in the edtech space. During the competition, competitors welcomed feedback on the delivery of their pitches and were also encouraged to be open with what they were looking for from the audience  of investors and industry experts, which ranged from potential funding to corporate partnerships.

The competition was also a great way to see up close some of the companies that were already members of the AWS EdStart program. A few of the presenting companies included Hive Digital Minds, a company that has created a platform to streamline school communication with parents, a game-based learning app that combines gaming with a reporting tool called boddle, and Exploros, a platform that allows teachers to follow the academic progress of students throughout the school year.

You can learn more about the application process by clicking on this link: aws.amazon.com/awsedstart

Don’t forget to also stay up to date with the latest happenings in the education technology field by visiting our LearnLaunch events page!

Jamal Merritt is an intern at LearnLaunch Institute