Innovative Education Fund Initiative Graduates First Cohort With “Demo Day”

March 20, 2014Penn’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) has announced that the Education Design Studio, Inc. (EDSi), a $2.1 million hybrid incubator and seed fund built specifically for education ventures, “graduated” its first cohort of entrepreneurs with a “Demo Day” last week. The inaugural cohort in the Penn GSE collaboration known as the Education Design Studio, Inc. (“EDSi”) debuted to what one venture’s founder described via Twitter as “outbursts of glee.”

Demo Day represented the culmination of these founders’ journeys over the course of EDSi’s six-month incubation period, which began in September 2013. EDSi took them around the world to learn from experts—from a visit to Washington D.C.’s 1776 incubator to London for the BETT Show (formerly The British Educational and Technology Training Show) and an exposure to the global marketplace and investors.

Brien C. Walton, EDSi’s CEO, introduced the three companies—Philadelphia-based ApprenNet, Raise (San Francisco, CA), and scrible (San Mateo, CA) — who demoed to an audience that included investors, their EDSi mentors and advisors, and students and staff from Penn GSE. Not merely a “pitch fest,” this event was an opportunity for founders to share new developments in their products’ evolution, to connect with investors from Philadelphia and beyond, and to allow the audience to try their products.

  • Scrible, an online research tool, announced the introduction of their “bookmarklet,” a small add-on to your browser that lets you do Web research by simply grabbing page URLs when you don’t need or want to annotate or attach keywords. This is an efficiency-minded addition that builds on the company’s existing offerings, which allow users to generate a personal research library of annotated, categorized Web pages, complete with keywords. 
  • Raise discussed its work building relationships with corporations and foundations, and even individuals, “so that anyone passionate about college access and helping youth can fund their own micro-scholarships.”
  • ApprenNet is a social e-learning platform that makes online learning interactive, engaging and effective.

“It was really exciting to see how far our fellow startups have come in the past six months.  These guys are really building companies that will change the world,” said Karl Okamoto, the founder of ApprenNet.

Venture founders mingled and interviewed with investors like John Cammack, Richard Binswanger, and Tony Hischler, as well as EDSi board member Matt Haldeman, from McGraw Hill Education, an Education Business Plan prize sponsor (in which both Raise and scrible were Finalists in 2013).

Finalists will be announced shortly for the 2014 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition, which takes place in May. Finalists will be eligible for the next round of support and incubation from EDSi.

EDSi is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between Penn GSE and a host of seasoned venture capitalists and investors. EDSi represents a new paradigm for investors, with a model that blends the best elements of an incubator, design studio, seed fund and social impact company.  View the presentations of the three EDSi companies on the Penn GSE Web site.

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge-building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit For further information on the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition, check out Facebook at MilkenPennEBPC; Twitter: NESTCentral; the 2013 hashtag #MilkenPennGSE or


Contact: Kat Stein, Communications, 215.898.9642