By Jay L.
Imagine 80+ people running around an auditorium with giant post-it notes and sharpies voting on ideas with smaller post-it notes and seeking collaborators to work on their education projects. This was the Friday night pitch chaos during Startup Weekend EDU Seattle. Of the forty-seven ideas that folks threw out into the room, eleven attracted teams to champion them.
It didn’t stop at the idea, though; these folks rolled up their sleeves spent really long hours at the library testing the viability of their solutions together. One group built a tracking device for special needs students. Another, a system to help teachers organize student work and learning behaviors. There was robotic arm, and a team creating a system to engage students to program it. One team even built a tool to help younger kids write book reviews. It was all fueled by great food and caffeine, of course!
Teen volunteers came out to provide valuable feedback on the ideas and products. Librarians, too, were on hand and teams asked some great in-depth reference questions. We ran to the Digest of Education Statistics, looked for math rubrics, uncovered ethnographical case studies, and more. We loved it!
Teams at Startup Weekend EDU Seattle were on a much faster pace than most startups we work with. But people often come to us looking for similar kinds of business information about competitors, customers, general market research. Whatever the speed, we just might have resources that can help.
Yes, this was a competition, and judges declared winners on Sunday, but there is nothing stopping any team from continuing to develop successful products and companies. It was amazing to see the sustained creative energy and collaboration in this startup marathon. Seattle has some highly educated people and this event provided an interesting and fun way for people to use library spaces to collaborate with others who have complementary talents.