In 1997, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple to rescue the company he had co-founded, he told his demoralized staff that “we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”
Nikki Jarvis has two passions – travel and education – and she has a startup business idea that intriguingly combines the two.
Thinker Ventures met Jarvis at the first Startup Weekend held at Rockford University’s Puri School of Business in early November. At Startup Weekends, people step forward with ideas, the best are chosen and a team of mentors help develop a business plan to take the idea forward – all in just 54 hours. Launched in Boulder, Colorado, in 2007, there have been Startup Weekends held in 135 countries.
There were three solid ideas to come out of Rockford’s Startup Weekend. Jarvis had one of them – EduFluent.
“EduFluent is a company that came to fruition after discussions with education technology startups who had been approached by schools and districts outside of the U.S. who wanted to use their technology. The startups did not have the manpower, the education system knowledge or the time to engage with these opportunities,” Jarvis said in an email. “EduFluent represents a curated portfolio of education technology startup companies. We work with ministries of education, schools, districts and states in the international sector to assess what their technological aims are and then present them U.S. technology that matches their aims.”
If you Google Nikki Jarvis, you’ll find her passion in education. This past summer, she wrote a series of articles on education and technology for a Chicago Innovation site, covering topics such as finding innovative summer camps and teaching entrepreneurship. If you try to reach Jarvis right now – good luck, she’s in India. She has traveled to more than 30 countries the past five years.
“Through my travels, I have sat in on and met with many areas of education. From students to teachers, administrators and government officials, each has a different perspective on the future of their respective education systems. I learned that there is a desire to learn more on how others have addressed challenges in education. Ultimately, each fully believed in education as the generator for the country’s future, a point almost all can agree on. Since we are in agreement on the purpose of education, why not continue to grow this purpose through implementing new technology?”
She’s not just a tourist visiting the Taj Mahal. Each trip has a purpose.
“In India, I’m specifically looking at the middle to low socio economic status and what education looks like. Schools are supported by the government. My question is, in a country where 670 million people live on 33 Rupees per day (about 50 cents)? What direction can education technology take in these spaces? How can we introduce technology in these spaces?”
Ironically, Rockford’s Startup Weekend was nearly canceled because the number of people signing up was below expectations. Organizers decided to go ahead anyway and this idea truly could make a change in the world. Thinker Ventures likes working with startups because the beauty is in finding that one great idea.
“Right now, EduFluent is in the fundraising stage. The Rockford Startup weekend was truly the launching point for an idea that had stayed an idea for all too long.”