Notable Startup: Thimble

Beginning this month, Startup Weekend and Startup Next alum, Thimble, will send its beta-users their first ‘Maker Boxes’ of individually electronic components.

Startup Weekend, Thimble

If you’re interested in building a robot, drone, arduino, or 3D printer, it’s a real challenge. Beginners struggle to identifying the correct specifications for important parts, and few step-by-step courses are available online.

“Thimble offers the parts, education, and community to make building hardware fun and easy,” Thimble co-founder Oscar Pedroso said. “Boxes are organized around a specific theme, and monthly contests which give users an incentive to build something innovative.”

Thimble’s Maker Boxes consist of nine or ten individual components– as well as several mystery parts– and are the centerpiece of a collaborative, DIY community of hardware enthusiasts. The Thimble app acts as a gateway to educational content concerning hardware assembly, and is designed in progressive tracks based upon a user’s experience.

“We allow hardware hobbyists and seasoned makers to successfully build and compete on projects together,” Pedroso said. “Our app helps users avoid common pitfalls at every stage of learning, and after each month’s contest, expert judges review project submissions and award prizes and feedback to the top creations.”

Pedroso jokes that Thimble is a hybridization of Birchbox and Code Academy. At just three months old, the company is rapidly exploring the best ways to source affordable, quality components, and troubleshoot the processes for shipping boxes in a timely manner. Pedroso said that developing logistics and hardware partnerships is among the company’s early priorities, and will help ensure that the boxes remain fun and reliable over the long term.

“There hasn’t been much focused effort towards creating a standardized community or platform for learning hardware,” Pedroso said. “People search on Youtube to learn the principles of hardware assembly, and then spend hours looking through parts, and soliciting feedback… They end up learning content far beyond their current skill-set, and become frustrated.”

Thimble went through pitches at Startup Weekend and TechCrunch Disrupt as ‘GradFly,’ and earned honors at Startup Weekend Toronto, and Startup Next.


January 2015 – March 16th, 2015.

3 (Oscar Pedroso, David Brenner, Michael Luskind)

Products shipped:
n/a  Launching first official box March 16th, 2015.

Partners signed up:

Funding secured:
none yet but we are raising

Open Source Hardware

Toronto, Canada / Buffalo, NY – soon-to-be in San Francisco



Not “wanted” by investors? There is a way to become a better founder

Written by Toma Kondrate

unnamed-1 Photo credit:

All investors surely know how to select startups based on their founders’ personal and professional qualities. But does every founder know if he was really meant to be one? Having a marvelous idea is not enough, on the contrary, it’s just a start line for the rocky journey to successful entrepreneurship.

If such thing as founder’s DNA exists, then probably some of the founders are screwed already by lacking magic genes in their blood. However, if you have a brilliant product and want to get investors’ money, there are certain things that qualify you as a “wanted” or “desperate” founder. So what is the secret formula?

Get your genie out of the bottle

There are plenty of reasons why angel investors, venture capital funds, startup accelerators wouldn’t want to take a risk on you. If you’re a criminal, a lazy-ass or a liar, you’re already in the black list with almost zero chances to make it to entrepreneur. In any other case, you may prepare yourself for a successful venture. StartupHighway, the first Baltic startup accelerator, names few tips on how to win the startup lottery and minimize the risk of failures.

# 1 Get ready for the test

The first phase of your entrepreneurial potential’s evaluation is an examination of your personal qualities and skill sets. Every investor wants to know who they are going to deal with and you’ll get to the top of the list if you’re smart, resourceful, venturous, flexible, innovative and farsighted. Your determination to go until the end is your ticket to big wins. If you pass the test, congrats, it means you fit into the category of founders who are “ambitious and ready to take on their idea to the next level”.

# 2 Shape a decisive vision

Obviously, having a superb idea is not enough. You have to know everything behind it – problem it’s solving, market size, potential growth, even the exit strategy. Investors are not funding startups because they’re simply good-hearted, the truth is they want the payback without the long time lag. The earlier you understand it, the better founder it makes you. In fact, change and adapt your vision as you go – combine it with a real time data. As Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, once said, “You don’t necessarily ever end up at that big vision that you were thinking about.”

# 3 Assemble your team precisely

Great startups are made by great teams. You don’t have to be a superman or “I can do it all by myself” guy to set up a world-class business. The power lies in the professional skills of your teammates, so choose your fellows wisely. Avoid the overlap of competencies and cover the most needed skill sets by bringing the right people on board. Think about Guy Kawasaki’s Law of Pre-Money Valuation saying that “for every full-time engineer, add $500,000; for every full-time M.B.A., subtract $250,000” while selecting new team members on board. The aim is to share the trust and compliment each other’s weaknesses, but also to exchange know-how.

# 4 Be resistant to negative answers

Choose to test and fail fast in order to get closer to your wins. Learn to hear “No” and don’t take it for an answer. Imagine it’s a game without game over, simple as that. Each investor counts on your ability to combat failures as that’s how they presume your overall capability to handle future business.  If a founder successfully completes the startup level, he will have to pass business scalability level by becoming a powerful entrepreneur. In other words, once you learn how to be a great founder, you’ll encounter next challenge – how to be a great executive.

# 5 Don’t hold on to stereotypes

There are no proven rules when it’s best to start a business. No matter how old you are, how many universities you’ve graduated from or how many books you’ve read – do it now and here. Your skills that you have , your set of beliefs and ideas at this very moment are what can make you a “wanted” founder right now, not after few years. Bear in mind, that procrastination is your enemy in every aspect of your business.

# 6 Get loose from obligations

Your marital status, bank loans, part-time jobs and even previous unfinished projects – are things that hold you back from getting funded by investors or startup accelerators. And hey, don’t take it personally, there’s just no place for unnecessary problems in investors’ world. What they need is full focus on your startup, hard work and overtime you are going to devote.

Founders at their nature – do they exist?

There is no one exceptionally true way to measure “how founder” you are. Ben Yoskivitz points out a great observation in his article about Founders DNA. He says “it’s fair to say that investors of all kinds (angels, venture, seed accelerators, etc.) use their own “guts” to get “a rough feeling” of entrepreneurs and use that as a significant barometer for determining their own interest”. That’s a human nature to make decisions based on the first impression and sixth sense.

Speaking of human nature, another expert in the field, Founder Institute takes a different approach to measure founders’ eligibility by analyzing Predictive Admissions test’s results. According to them, entrepreneurship is destined by personality traits mainly. There is no need to have a company or even a business idea to prove it. The interesting infographic reveals that a great entrepreneur is defined by his professional experience, high fluid intelligence, high openness and moderate agreeableness. And, likewise, the bad founder’s qualities are excuse-making, emotional instability, predatory aggressiveness, deceit and narcissism. With that said, if you have a wrong personality, there’s nothing left as to just deal with it.

It takes many things to unlock success in starting a business – character traits, such as willingness to learn, surpassing expectations, passion for growing; and business acumen. Investors will choose to rely on you because of your business sense, creative thinking, fearless decision making and credibility. You have to be able to walk in the dark and figure out when you’re on the right track. You must feel comfortable in chaos and uncertainty and maintain the fine line between panic and ambition to go further. If you possess all of these features, you’re probably ready to start knocking on investors’ doors.

5 Tips for Jumpstarting a Fruitless Social Media Strategy

This article is written by Vince Chiofolo from Boom Digital.

Social media is a nifty marketing tool, and can be a lot of fun too (celebrity Tweets, Candy Crush or cat pictures— pick your own vice, I’ll take cat pics). But be that as it may, a brand’s existence on social media alone will not drive the organic traffic needed to build a strong web presence (and reaching level 600 on Candy Crush is virtually worthless in this pursuit).

Many unattended social presences tend to stagnate over time and offer fruitless results for brands. They kind of just exist. Collect dust. Like that old treadmill you’re presently using as a coat rack, but only until you have time to clean the clutter out of your closet, which you can’t do yet because you’re busy trying to get in shape, which you can’t do yet because your treadmill has clothes on it.

The best way to utilize social channels and drive valuable traffic is to develop a strategic social media marketing plan. While every organization will have different needs—here are five simple tips that will make developing this strategy seamless and stress-free.

Know Where your Audience “Lives”

Would you be more likely to find your ideal customers in a dentist’s office or a pillow fort? If it’s the latter, that’s exactly where you’d want to have a presence (I mean, who wouldn’t?). On the web, it’s not much different. Social media does not simply mean Facebook. Social media does not mean Facebook and Twitter. Social media does not even mean Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and MySpace (lolz, MySpace). There are dozens of social networking sites big and small. Finding the right ones and using them in sync with one another will help you reach your audience on the best level possible. You may receive a vastly different result by posting on Tumblr than you will by posting on LinkedIn – depending on which your audiences tends to use as their pillow fort. If you work in a niche market, you NEED to find the niche sites to connect with the right audience.

Create Buyer Personas

Instead of marketing to the masses, like wildly throwing like spaghetti against the wall hoping some sticks, create buyer or client personas of the type of people that you wish to reach with your social media marketing campaign. Create different buyer personas that include information such as potential demographics, background and identifiers. Then, with every social media action you take, you have a potential reader or follower to target.

Build a Posting Pattern

Posting five times today before waiting another week until you post again may confuse or more likely annoy your followers. Try to develop a pattern of posting that is somewhat predictable and fits in with the audience expects as far as content frequency. This may involve using automation tools (such as Hootsuite or SocialFlow) to schedule posts and avoid any inconsistencies.

Remember, the Keyword is Social

When it comes to social media marketing, many times “marketing” becomes the focus. For the best, most organic results, “social” should be the emphasis. Strategize ways to make every post engaging so that your followers will want to interact with you and provide you with those ever-valuable social shares.

Analyze your Results

Use the tools available to you and find out who you are reaching and what these people are doing once you are reaching them. But don’t let numbers drive you crazy. If your reach seems low, but the people you reach are highly-engaged and interacting, you are succeeding. Quality often outweighs quantity. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to make changes, but constantly watch and see what bares some impact and what doesn’t. Then roll with the impact and streamline the approach.

While developing a social media marketing strategy may involve an investment of time and effort, the rewards can incredible for brands. Social media marketing is important and only becoming more vital to the growth of brands. Retweets and Likes aside, a strategic social platform could influence immense bottom-line growth to sales and retention that may otherwise go unseen. In your quest to build your social media empire, do not try to be all things to all people. Strategize, execute and analyze. You will be amazed by what a vast social reach could do.

Ask An Entrepreneur: How To Innovate In A Saturated Market?

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 9.57.00 AMAnswer provided by: Nell Waters, Founder of SOAK, an urban bathhouse.

Past Employment: Owner, Whole Body Tonic

Featured Recently in: FastCompany — “This Anti-Spa Is Built Inside Shipping Containers




For over a decade I’ve worked in health and wellness, providing therapeutic solutions to people who suffer serious burnout or injuries. My former business, Whole Body Tonic (2005-2014,) was a staple in ‘curative’ care in San Francisco for people across the entire spectrum of the city, and was the recipient of many awards. I closed that chapter of my professional life to embark on a more ambitious project – to bring back the culture of ‘urban baths’. I wanted to create a place that nurtures creative potential because when people unplug and clear their head, they foster new insights and ideas. Imagine a small steel loft, with roof-top deck, wood sauna, and high-efficiency fixtures. Many treat SOAK as a disrupter in the spa industry. At SOAK, the idea is retrofitted shipping containers that house spa amenities in an ecological and design-driven way.

I come from a family of artists and have a creative background, so when I think about innovating in a saturated market, the beginning point for me is always one of introducing something that is beautiful and simple in its design. At SOAK, the engineering concepts are pioneering but the principles behind them are straightforward. We work with the resources that are already there. In our case, sun (mounted PV cels supply all the energy that SOAK needs to operate), and filtered rainwater catchment. I know, drought makes rainwater use harder to conceive but it’s resource-conscious and that’s a meaningful proof point for our company.

Part of my driving ethos in the beginning was how can we do ‘x’ and make it into ‘y’. In this case, how can we be less opulent and more in line with environmental needs of the future; without sacrificing the customer experience. It definitely helps to be values-driven. This has always kept me on course and allowed me to fully understand the DNA of my company and in turn held me to my vision.

The next place I begin when thinking about innovating in a saturated market is delivering an experience that is artful and authentic. I’m always inspired by what’s not available to me, so I’m usually working against the grain. If I see what exists already, I usually think about all the ways it could be better and improve upon itself. In my process, what is already here is a great starting point for me to think, tinker, and push the envelope on how to make that thing richer and at the same time uncomplicated. Depending on your market, I prefer limiting the services offered. Every service you add is an exponential growth in quality control that must be managed well. But one, or two, or even three things can and should be executed with impeccable standards. This should yield a loyal customer base and enable growth that is mindful and sustainable.

As entrepreneurs, we are the cowboys/cowgirls that our grandchildren will talk about, the innovators and pioneers of new territories. It’s the wild wild west out here. Be different and back that up with a sound business model and a superior product. That should help you take the lead.

Follow Nell on: Twitter, Facebook and at

10 Most Valuable Startup Launched By Students (Infographic)

The graphic below shows businesses that were launched by students. Did you know that such popular companies as Reddit, WordPress and Time Magazine were founded by students? WOW!




Need more infographics? Check out:

3 Teaching Tips I Learned At SXSWEdu

Written by Gerson Ribeiro, an Education Entrepreneurs Community Leader in Recife, Brazil.

My first time at SXSWedu in Austin, TX was simply mind-blowing! I had the honor of being there and even better, I got a chance to stay at the HQ of Education Entrepreneurs with five other amazing people that were focused on engaging around the topic of education.

The keynotes, panels, and after-parties were both fun and informative. SXSWEdu is the perfect event for learning more about edtech, education innovation, and the trends that will change how we learn and teach.

Here are three key things I learned there that I’m excited to share with you:

1) Kids must learn how to code

One trend that is not exactly new, but everybody is talking about, is the importance to teach kids how to code. I believe that coding is being emphasized for two reasons: 1) the computing industry is growing and we need to prepare our kids for these jobs, and 2) programming makes the brain connect things better and more systematically.

At SXSWEdu there was a presentation by Matt Venn and his presentation focused on three topics:

  • How to teach computing without a computer
  • How to teach programming without code
  • How to teach computing without being boring

I was really impressed by his titles and was amazed by the time he finished the presentation. As a university programming student, I thought it would never be possible to teach computing without a computer or without coding. Matt’s presentation showed me that it’s very simple to do all of that with kids by using different approaches to programming besides just going to the keyboard and typing everything.

First, he made us understand that coding is really about the logics behind it. Logics and parameters are easy to understand and are applicable for everything in our world. His example was to ask for a blindfolded person to move from one place to the other.

Of course this is difficult with obstacles, so we had to devise some basic instructions, like walk a limited number of steps, define the size of each step, turn right or left 90 degrees and stop. This may sound silly but basic programming could be something like that:

  • define step = size of your foot;
  • start:
  • walk straight ahead for 20 steps;
  • turn left_90_degrees;
  • walk straight ahead for 5 steps;
  • turn right_90_degrees;
  • stop

Kids would easily understand these basic concepts and then you would go further into coding by introducing other real-life activities to teach them more about the logics behind it.

That was a lot of fun to do! If you are a teacher you should try it!

2) Bring Hollywood to class

New research and different experiments show us that we can’t just teach kids in a passive way. We need to motivate them to be curious, active and go learn by themselves. One very interesting approach was shown at SXSWEdu by using different aspects from Hollywood, video games, and storytelling.

At the Playground Talks & Hands-On (an awesome place where you learn by doing), we had the privilege to engage in an activity hosted by Allan Staker. There, around 10 adults were on a quest to find a missing researcher that was solving a very important mystery.

By using different elements, like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, we were involved in solving the whole mystery behind the story by learning trigonometry, geography, history, and other things. We also got a free compass! Yay!!!

The main idea is to bring the students to a journey that has mystery, drama, and action. A journey where they are active characters, and their job is to solve whatever the mission requests of them. This is an interesting approach, but also a little tricky, because the teacher must find new ways to teach the same curriculum but embedded inside the context of the story.

Storytelling is very important, and structuring an exciting story is key to success.

Maybe very soon we are going to be seeing some RPG games with quests that include some math problem solving and biology research embedded in it. We’ll see!

3) We don’t know (yet) which model is the best: Old vs New

I’ve been working to innovate education for a while now and meeting Brian Greenberg from Silicon Schools was simply an honor. The guy is amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I could not have imagined that there would be somebody willing to confront him on a public panel, fervently defending traditional schooling. (For those of you who don’t know, Brian is an advocate for new school models). That was before I met Anthony Kim, the super smart CEO of Education Elements. They were in a battle to defend their points of view during the panel School Models: Tried and True vs. Shiny and New.

Heather Staker was responsible for mediating the conversation and made it even more rich by asking very difficult questions.

While Brian was defending how we can develop new and innovative schools by using different methods, Anthony brought the traditional point of view for solutions in education.

For us in the audience, it was really interesting to see these two points of view being discussed at the same time. Is the old school model so bad after all? Are these brand new learning methods going to really work in the long run?

One thing’s for sure, this is a debate that will go on for a long time.


More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.

Community Leader Spotlight: Hiro Miyakawa

ef8433bfc04795583e98be0a3ab8fe2dHiro Miyakawa is half Japanese/half Brazilian. He is 24-years-old and believes curiosity and learning is the essence of humanity and love.

Miyakawa is a Startup Weekend Education Organizer and the Founder of Kotobá, a connector of  students to engaging Japanese language lessons.

Find him on Twitter: @hrxm
Using his favorite hashtag: #go
Or on the web:


***Read about Miyakawa’s Startup Weekend Edu Youth Recife event. For the first time, outside the US, young people set up educational startups in 54 hours.


What do you like to do for fun?
Watch tv shows, read books, talk, and travel. Try and do exciting things: Cook, surf, play, standup comedy.

If you could have any teacher (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would it be and why?

Nelson Mandela. He engaged people to make a better country. The humbleness he had when he left the prison and thanked the guard, the determination he had to be against the values of that time…. I have many things to learn from him.

What’s your favorite edtech company and/or innovative school, and why?

Udemy. It’s simple, practical, and skill-focused learning.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs (EE)?

After my first Startup Weekend, I was hooked. I talked to Gerson about it and we started Organizing one in Recife.

What’s been your involvement in EE to date?

Organized SWEdu Recife and SWEdu Youth Recife, meetups and talks.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer (and/or Facilitator)?Finding Sponsors.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer (and/or Facilitator)?
Seeing that I’m part of change and making the world better place! People leave the event empowered and talking about next steps. That’s fantastic!

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to those trying to build an education innovation community?

Engage with schools, teachers, professors, policy makers. They often don’t feel part of the entrepreneur world as devs and designers do. We have to make educators comfortable and communicate that they are the key people that will making things happen.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to people trying to create edtech products?

User experience is important. Engaging students to learn smoothly is the challenge in this mobile and internet world. It’s getting accessible, easy-learning, almost free, so the business model is challenging too.

You just launched the first ever SWEDU Youth Edition outside of the United States – congrats! Why did you decide to do it?

Youths are often excluded from entrepreneurship. “Too soon, too young” is the same excuse. We wanted to include them, hear them and challenge them to build educational solutions. There’s no convention that holds them back, and we wanted to see where all that creativity would take us.

What’s different about a SWEDU Youth Edition than a regular SWEDU?

In SWEDU Youth has step-by-step workshops. The kids don’t know pitches, costumer validation, etc. So we have to teach them in a practical way. Also, dedicated mentors make a huge difference. They act as godparents, guiding the kids through the whole weekend.

For those Organizers who may want to do a SWEDU Youth Edition in their community, what are the three biggest pieces of advice you’d give them?

  • The role of mentors is SUPER important. They stay together with the kids the whole time, they’ll be dedicated coaches.
  • Finding mentors that not only understand business and education but also is great with kids.
  • Having a consolidated school as partner is great to have trust from parents (and help approach the attendees’ parents)

What’s the legacy you want to leave in education?

Accessible and high-quality learning for everyone. We have technology to make it possible! I don’t wanna see a single person not taking a chance of his life because he didn’t have the opportunity to learn something.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would ____
be fun and engaging for everyone.

What are the books, events, videos, etc. that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?

Lean Startup
Business Model Canvas
Startup Communities
The Little Prince

Meetups (organize one!)

TED Talk Sir Ken Robinson “School kills creativity”
TED Talk Jeff Skoll “My journey into movies that matters”
TED Talk Jane McGonigal “Gaming can make a better world”

Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m really happy to be part of the EE community and help things happen here in Brazil. Being an Organizer at Startup Weekend Education is really enriching, it’s an honor to help people feel empowered by entrepreneurship. It’s a huge learning each time. We have lots of challenges to overcome in education but one thing is sure, we’re not alone. Peace 🙂

Community Leader Spotlight: Eduardo Rocha

XW3JXCvl_400x400Eduardo Rocha is a 24-year-old Brazilian. He organizes global Startup Weekend events and believes that entrepreneurship and education are the key to changing the world.

Rocha is a VC Analyst at Triaxis Capital. He prospects startups for investment. He also monitors and accelerates the company to make sure it grows profitable.

Find him on Twitter: @dudurocha
Using his favorite hashtagL #tbt
Or on the web:

***Read about Rocha’s Startup Weekend Edu Youth Recife event. For the first time, outside the US, young people set up educational startups in 54 hours.


What do you like to do for fun?
Read, talk to different people, and travel with my girlfriend.

If you could have any teacher (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would it be and why?
Bill Gates. Because he achieved so much success as an entrepreneur, making sure billions of people have access to technology. He is also a philanthropist, helping millions of people get out of poverty and enabling the cure of many deadly diseases.

What’s your favorite edtech company and/or innovative school, and why?
Joystreet. They make education more fun providing educational games to the public schools of Brazil.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs (EE)?
When Gerson, Luiz and Hiro brought it to Recife. I was glad to help.

What’s been your involvement in EE to date?
I’ve been a Facilitator and a volunteer.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer (and/or Facilitator)?
Guiding all the participants to work efficiently together. Educators sometimes don’t have the urgency and mindset of an entrepreneur.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer (and/or Facilitator)? Empowering teachers and educators. Encouraging them that they have what it takes to be an entrepreneur and that they are the only one who can truly change education.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to those trying to build an education innovation community?
As Community Leaders our goal is to make sure everybody gets to know each other. So I think coordinating meetups, pitch nights, and  happy hours is a great addition. Plus, making sure you have a communication tool that is easy for everybody to get in touch, a facebook group or slack group.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to people trying to create edtech products?
Don’t forget the educators. IT people tend to think that the only thing that matter is the platform they are building, but education is about methods, the computer or tablet is just a new tool to deliver the same message.

What’s different about a SWEDU Youth Edition than a regular SWEDU?
Kids have so much energy! There are two great differences. First one: kids don’t come as a developer, designer or non-tech, they decide themselves what they want to be during the event. Also, the mentors have an even more important role in this event, they have to be with the young entrepreneurs all the time, make sure they are on schedule and focused, and have to be cautions to not make things for them, only guide them.

For those Organizers who may want to do a SWEDU Youth Edition in their community, what are the three biggest pieces of advice you’d give them?

  • Get a school or organization to help you. It’s a great way to get the confidence of the parents and to raise some funds.
  • Choose your mentors wisely – they must really know the mission of Startup Weekend, and be willing to spend the weekend with other peoples kids.
  • Let the kids have fun! Keep the energy up.

What’s the legacy you want to leave in education?
I want to make sure everybody in Brazil is able to have a great education.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would ____
Free, Engaging and Universal.

What are the books, events, videos, etc. that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?
Event: SW Edu.
Video: Salma Khan’s Ted Talks 
Book: Abundance by Peter Diamand is essential to understanding the impact of new technologies in different fields, including education.

Anything else you’d like to share?
Being an Organizer and Facilitator of Startup Weekend has changed my life and gave me the opportunity to change the lives of others. If you have the chance, get involved as early as you can and make a difference in your community!

Community Leader Spotlight: Gerson Ribeiro


Gerson Ribeiro is a passionate entrepreneur and Startup Weekend Education Organizer from Brazil. He loves to meet new people and believes high-quality education, made available to everyone, is the only way to change the world.

Ribeiro is the founder of Olho de Anjo, which helps companies market online, develop business goals and with investment in early stage startups.

Find him on twitter: @gersonrfr
Using his favorite hashtag: #EdtechRevolution
Or on the web:

***Read about Ribeiro’s Startup Weekend Edu Youth Recife event. For the first time, outside the US, young people set up educational startups in 54 hours.


What do you like to do for fun?
Longboarding and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

If you could have any teacher (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would it be and why?
Steve Jobs. The man was hard to behave but was simply a genius and inspired millions of people to innovate and to create a better world.

What’s your favorite edtech company and/or innovative school, and why?
Duolingo. Their business model is simply beautiful and genius. They translate the internet for a fraction of the price at the same time that gives high quality language training FOR FREE! Amazing!

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs (EE)?
After my first Startup Weekend I heard about Education Entrepreneurs and wanted to participate in a Startup Weekend Edu. Although, it would be too hard to travel far away to participate. So I thought: Why don’t I organize one in my city? The rest is history.

What’s been your involvement in EE to date?
I’ve helped organize a Startup Weekend Edu event in my city and Facilitated the last Startup Weekend Edu Youth we had. Amazing experience.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer (and/or Facilitator)?
Finding the sponsors for the events. For sure.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer (and/or Facilitator)?
We are never going to be able to fully measure the impact entrepreneurial events will have for the future. It’s going to be a ripple effect that will echo thru time in an exponential reach. Thousands and maybe millions of people will be positively changed because of every event. This is amazing! Knowing that you’ve changed peoples lives for better is simply priceless.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to those trying to build an education innovation community?
Start organizing small and periodical events. Monthly meetups are very good to spark and getting out of inertia.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to people trying to create edtech products?
Providing free content. If you are trying to sell content know that you’re competing with free youtube videos. Think about your business model and validate it right now. NOW!

You just launched the first ever SWEDU Youth Edition outside of the United States – congrats! Why did you decide to do it?
When I was young, I remember my teachers telling me that we would be the future leaders, the future of our nation and of the world. The time has come.

What’s different about a SWEDU Youth Edition than a regular SWEDU?
It was hard to keep kids on track. During a regular SWEDU the adults will be by themselves, that doesn’t work in a Youth event. The dedicated coaches are essential for the event. Without them it is impossible to keep the kids in track.

For those Organizers who may want to do a SWEDU Youth Edition in their community, what are the three biggest pieces of advice you’d give them?

  • Find dedicated coaches that know about business and that can manage kids. That’s not easy to find.
  • Have 3 workshops: development, business and design for Saturday. The workshops must be direct to the point and something the kids can use right away for their startups.
  • Don’t be soft with the kids. They must learn time pressure and working hard for reaching specific goals.

What’s the legacy you want to leave in education?
I want to help education be accessible for everybody. I’m certain that edtech companies will find clever business models that will make this possible. Imagine there was an edtech company as big as Google? This would be something interesting to see.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would ____
be accessible to everybody.

What are the books, events, videos, etc. that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?

Lean Startup – Eric Ries
The Startup Owner’s Manual – Steve Blank
Business Model Generation
The Art of the Start 2.0 – Guy Kawasaki    <—— Awesome and straight to the point
Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City – Brad Feld

Demo Days
Startup events in general
Startup Weekends

How to Startup a Startup (6 video course) – YCombinator
How body language shapes who you are (important for the entrepreneur) – Amy Cuddy

Anything else you’d like to share?
I believe the only way we can change the world is by providing global access to quality education. Today, we finally have the tools and infrastructure to make change possible. I’m certain that Education Entrepreneurs will find genius business models, ideas and innovation. The Edtech Revolution has started.

8 Startup Pivots That Changed The World (Infographic)

These six companies have survived and gone on to become successful because they adapted to changing times. The world would be a much different place if Nintendo never decided to start making game consoles, or if Twitter kept its focus on podcasts instead of microblogging. Thought provoking stuff, right? Learn more about companies that successfully switched focus and went on to become some of the most powerful operations in the world!


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