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With more and more children using mobile devices, the education space is certainly ripe for innovation. Kirkland-based EdStart is another ed-tech startup hoping to help students learn faster and give teachers immediate feedback with innovative mobile solutions.

Founded by four entrepreneurs in April 2012, the 19-person company provides real-time education technologies backed by instructional strategies.

“We want to provide tools and applications that are co-created with teachers and schools to foster a much higher rate of accelerated learning and academic progress,” CEO Scot Refsland said.

The company got its start working with Leadership Public Schools and four urban high schools in the Bay Area. From there, EdStart released its first product — ExitTicket, a student response system — this past August and it’s already being used in all 50 U.S. states and 27 countries.

We caught up with Refsland to learn more about EdStart and ExitTicket for the latest edition of Startup Spotlight.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: creates innovative education solutions that foster accelerated personalized learning experiences.

EdStart CEO Scot Refsland.
EdStart CEO Scot Refsland.

Inspiration hit us when … Through our work with urban schools in low income neighborhoods, we saw many students from these areas coming in four to five grade levels below where most US ninth graders should be. The challenge was to pack eight years of instruction into four, and get 97 percent of those kids to “College Ready” by the end of high school. When we asked Teachers, “what would it take…”, inspiration struck and we co-created ExitTicket with them right in the classroom.

ExitTicket not only helps teachers engage students in real time through commonly used technology, but also it goes one step further and helps kids own their own academic progress. In a short two years,

ExitTicket has played a powerful role in accelerating student learning by a measured 2.5 grade level gain in one academic year, and moving students from 97 percent college ready to 97 percent college-bound.

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: We are bootstrapping our buildup because we already have traction and this allows us to stay true to our purpose – a sustainable, social enterprise that realizes positive societal and educational impact.

ExitTicket provides teachers with rich back-end data on their students.
ExitTicket provides teachers with rich back-end data on their students.

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: Our ‘secret sauce’ is collaborating and with educators and technologists to focus on the double bottom-line of a positive educational impact and shareholder value.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: The smartest move we have made is in partnering directly with schools and educators.

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: The biggest mistake we’ve made is that we have not always provided enough free organic meals to and for our developers.

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: We would rather have Bezos and Richard Branson (write-in option) in our corner because they both are audacious and thrive on a steady diet of innovation and disruption and EdStart strives to do the same with education.

Our world domination strategy starts when: Our world domination strategy has already started!

exitticket1Rivals should fear us because: Rivals should fear us because we are the giant whale quietly swimming beneath their unsuspecting rowboats.

We are truly unique because: We are truly unique because educational impact is priority and technology is secondary.

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: Our biggest hurdle is has been to create the successful transfer of ExitTicket out of one classroom and scale it into many.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: The best advice we can share is the best we have received — find what sets you on fire and stoke it! Find the purpose that is bigger than you that ‘grips’ you and feed it.

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