Press Releases

April 1, 2019

Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition announces 2019 semifinalists

April 1, 2019

Judges chose 20 semifinalists, based in 10 states and Australia, whose companies are focused on issues including biomedical research, language learning, and school management.

Media Contact: 
Jeff Frantz (215) 898-3269 |

April 2, 2019, Philadelpha — The judges have selected 20 ventures as Semifinalists for the 2019 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition. These founders of these ventures will have the opportunity to revise and refine their entry, if they so choose, over the next several months and advance to Round 2 of the competition. Finalists, to be announced in September, will then compete in a live event in Philadelphia on October 7, 2019 for cash and other prizes. 

These founders are a diverse lot. They range in age from their 20s to their 50s. They live in 10 states in the U.S. with one in Australia. Their ventures also demonstrate great diversity and ingenuity, as you can see below. The 2019 Semifinalist ventures, listed in alphabetical order below, are:

Adaptivex unleashes the powers of adaptive testing to help improve student performance.
(Founders: Shayla Stafford, Estefania Ortiz, Christy Weisner)

We create mobile apps and games that allow teachers to turn mobile devices into science equipment and students into scientists.
(Founder: Michael Kasumovic)

BestFit, Inc.
We're the YouTube of college decision-making, using data and storytelling to empower students to identify their best fit colleges.
(Founders: Asha Owens, Rebecca Kwee)

Canduit is a SaaS platform for company-sponsored project-based learning in higher education.
(Founders: Leah Davidson, Greg Lewin, Matthew LaVan)

Chef Koochooloo
An AI-powered gamified application for kids that teaches them healthy cooking from around the world, while enhancing their skills in science.
(Founders: Layla Sabourian, Antoine Tarwe, Delarai Tarwe)

Class Composer
Class Composer is a subscription based software program that helps elementary school principals and teachers create equitable classes.
(Founders: Mike Cronley, Ed Khoukaz)

eCLOSE is a citizen science program for biomedicine. The program trains high school students in biomedical research.
(Founders: Alana O'Reilly, Dara Ruiz-Whalen)

Edcelerant creates modern coding curriculum, licenses courses to higher ed, and places qualified graduates in paid apprenticeships.
(Founders: Brad Denenberg, Richard Binswanger, Brigitte Daniel)

EdTech Live
EdTechLive's mission is to develop teacher competencies in classroom technology to improve student learning.
(Founders: Nona Ullman, Phillip H Dunn, Liz Earley, Michael Sammartano)

Floop Edu
Floop enables effective feedback to transform student learning. Our tools save teachers time and teach students to engage with feedback.
(Founders: Melanie Kong, Christine Witcher)

GAB-on! harnesses parent engagement, cultivates students' social/emotional learning, and strengthens EF's through the power of conversation.
(Founders: Sylvia Hall, Jarrid Hall)

GiveThx is a research-based curriculum and app that nurtures positive behaviors and relationships using peer-to-peer gratitude.
(Founders: Michael Fauteux, Amara Humphry, Javier Pere)

Huddle enables teachers to build strong, positive, and long-term 1:1 relationships with their students.
(Founders: Sean Farrell, Kathleen Sheehy)

Majorwise is a High School Career Service solution that helps schools find, manage and track their students' work-based learning experiences.
(Founders: Max Robbins, Peter Silverman)

ROYBI is an AI-powered, educational companion robot, currently targeting 3-7- year-old children focusing on language learning.
(Founders: Elnaz Sarraf, Ron Cheng)

SayKid combines voice technology (AI) and the form factor of a plush robot to help children learn in a safe, engaging, and personalized way.
(Founders: DeLonn Crosby, Scott Schanke)

ScholarJet partners with employers to create digital competitions, where low- income students compete to earn scholarships and get hired.
(Founders: Tuan Ho, Joseph Alim, Francisco Calderon)

Social Cipher
Social Cipher is a story-driven video game that gives children with autism a safe, fun, and accessible space to apply social skills.
(Founders: Vanessa Gill, Amy Wu, Anastasia Ibrahim, Charlie Anderson)

People are at their best when they have high executive functioning. Our AI coach improves these skills in students and employees.
(Founders: Leon Kim, Ethan Keiser)

T-var EdTech, Inc.
T-var EdTech designs and sells devices that help blind children learn to read.
(Founder: Alex Tavares)