Inaugural Class of Kauffman Labs Education Ventures Program Unveils Innovative Companies

Michael Dirda, 212-277-4320,, Edelman
Barbara Pruitt, 816-932-1288,, Kauffman Foundation

Twenty-three aspiring founders selected from more than 1,000 applicants present transformative companies in the education market

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) June 7, 2011 – Showcasing the best in educational startups, the Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation Education Ventures program today hosted presentations by 23 aspiring entrepreneurs starting powerful and innovative businesses.

The presentations marked the culmination of a four-month program that allowed 23 founders of education companies—a broad cross section of Americans including former Merrill Lynch and Google employees, professors, community organizers, visual artists, school officials, and Wharton business school graduates—to immerse themselves in an intensive, hands-on curriculum designed to catalyze the development of their businesses. The Education Ventures program offered participants individualized training and entrepreneurship education, coaching on a variety of business and marketing skills, guidance in connecting with financiers, and a prorated annual salary of $70,000 that enabled them to pursue their projects full-time.

Selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants, the Education Ventures entrepreneurs' 16 business concepts represent some of the very best education startups today. Three of the entrepreneurs were recently named among nine finalists competing for $50,000 in startup funds in the Milken PennGSE Education Business Plan Competition, while one Kauffman Labs participant was selected for the Imagine K-12 education incubator, inspired by Y Combinator, and another team was chosen for Good Company Ventures' Social Impact Incubator.

"Kauffman Labs is more than an ecosystem. It is a powerful network of founders who are intent on making a difference in their respective marketplaces. I am struck by the founders' commitment to not only satisfying a customer need, but also their commitment to one another. Their passion is contagious, but their commitment is inspiring," said Ted Zoller, president of Kauffman Labs. "We've seen this group of 23 founders seek advice from one another, share intelligence and trade skill sets across companies in a type of 'cross-pollination' that is akin to the feedback they would normally receive in their advisory boards. The Labs program showcases the power of a peer group of entrepreneurs who support each other and foster community to help each other navigate the evolution of their respective startups, positioning them to breakout to become the next market-makers in their industry. These firms will change the world."

Videos of the presentations will be posted within the week.
Examples of the Education Ventures projects featured today include:

  • ChildRoad, a company that uses a Netflix-inspired business model to revolutionize how children and parents worldwide access children's books by providing an online digital library in several languages.
  • Irynsoft, a mobile software company in the California Bay Area that has built a software platform to turn inexpensive Android tablets into powerful educational tools, creating a superior alternative to the iPad at less than half the price.
  •, a non-profit that connects at-risk high school students to donors online who can help fund afterschool and summer programs. 
  • MindBlown Labs, a next-generation web and mobile platform that combines aspects of social gaming with hands-on money management experience to provide financial literacy instruction for students aged ten through eighteen.

Rick Hess, research scholar and director of education policy studies at The American Enterprise Institute, delivered the event's keynote address.

The Education Ventures program is one of the initiatives of Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation intended to study first-hand how startups gain traction while also providing a collaborative atmosphere that contributes to the evolution of the businesses.

About Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation
A program of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation is a new approach to developing the next generation of fast-growth firms. Tapping the Kauffman Foundation's vast entrepreneurship knowledge and networks, the program seeks to accelerate the number and success of new firms by offering a new method for teaching and training entrepreneurs of dynamic, fast-growth, scalable businesses in a lab setting, while studying the "science of startups" in the process. Visit for more information.