Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

CIE News

NY EdTech Week—Insights from Dr. Deborah Powell

by Nikki Kroushl on January 31, 2017

Edtech week

Photo courtesy of NY EdTech Week Facebook

While most of us were lying on the couch, binging Netflix and eating cookies in preparation for the holidays, a few of the CIE's driven and ever-enthusiastic education technology entrepreneurs were at the New York EdTech Week conference in—you guessed it—New York City from December 19th to 21st. The CIE partnered with tekMountain to send Dr. Debbie Powell of Uni-SPIRE and Sarah Ritter of Turnip Learning to the conference. Last week, we caught up with Dr. Powell to get some insights from the weekend event.

Founded by educators and entrepreneurs alike, NY EdTech Week “is a global education innovation festival in New York City celebrating education entrepreneurship.” It's “a global meeting point for the education innovation industry focusing on how entrepreneurship and edtech drive advancements in education and learning.”

The focus of the conference, Dr. Powell said, was mostly to connect education entrepreneurs to potential investors.

“It was a very different conference from what I'm accustomed to, in terms of educational conferences,” she said. “There were a series of different pitches, and then the investors had time to talk to people and ask and answer questions after they heard them. My company isn't particularly looking for an investor right now, but I still learned a lot.”

Uni-SPIRE is Dr. Powell's startup, which provides an advanced software to teachers that analyzes students' writing abilities and provides directives on how to address problems or take their writing to the next level. It's based on a “writing continuum” that she developed after decades working in education and observing problems that teachers found in trying to devise writing curricula.

Dr. Powell noted that her main takeaway from the conference was the networking opportunities. She was able to talk with members of companies like hers, sharing learning experiences.

“I'm not sure I'm the best networker,” Dr. Powell said, laughing, “with people that are more business-oriented instead of education-oriented. So it was a useful experience.”

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