Kaplan Names Education Companies to Receive Mentoring, Support

Managing Editor

Kaplan Inc., the provider of test-preparation and other services, has announced the first round of startup education companies it will support through an “accelerator” program designed to provide those fledgling businesses with mentoring and opportunities for growth.

Numerous organizations, including nonprofits, run incubator or accelerator efforts designed to help novice companies focused on K-12 get off the ground or establish a place in the market. There are tons of companies these days seeking to get into the game.

(To learn about a different species of support being provided for ed-tech startups, see the University of Pennsylvania’s effort to provide young companies with access to academic researchers, as well as financial backing.)

The 10 companies selected by Kaplan include those focused on both K-12 and postsecondary education, as well as adult learning. The list includes Playpower Labs, of Pittsburgh, a Web-based platform of online and mobile math games for students in grades K-8; Whipsmart, of New York, which links personalized literacy lessons to news content; MentorMob, of Chicago, described as a crowdsourced platform for curating learning resources for specific skills; and Uvize, of Boulder, Colo., a service to help veterans of the military succeed academically in college.

The companies were chosen from 350 applicants. They will receive help from more than 80 mentors in the education industry, including at least 20 from Kaplan, officials at the Florida-based company say.

Kaplan will initially host the startups at its offices in New York City, and provide them with office space, and other resources, including access to some of the company’s proprietary products.

In September, Kaplan will host a “demo day,” in which the startup officials will be invited to make presentations before investors and others in the education community, the company said.

Support for the new companies is also coming from TechStars, a startup accelerator that mentors companies from around the world and says it is backed by more than 75 different venture-capital firms.

Kaplan officials say they will not receive an equity stake in the companies, as is common in many accelerator programs, but they say that TechStars will. Each company gets $20,000 from TechStars, in exchange for a 6 percent equity stake, according to Kaplan.

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