Launch Competition

SXSWedu Launch photo by Diego Donamaria

SXSWedu Launch showcases innovations in education with a fast-paced, live startup competition. The sixth annual launch competition will take place at SXSWedu, March 6-9, 2017 in Austin, Texas.

Early-stage companies seeking feedback, investment, strategic partnerships and exposure will take the stage for the two-part competition at SXSWedu.

Judges, Coaches and Emcees

SXSWedu relies on the expertise of a handpicked group of judges, coaches and an emcee. Based on these participants demonstrated business and investment experience they are qualified to help determine the viability of a startup. These experts play a key role in the event and help guide the exciting Launch competition.


Rafranz Davis

Rafranz Davis

Exec Dir of Professional + Digital Learning, Lufkin ISD

Rafranz Davis is the Executive Director of Professional and Digital Learning for Lufkin ISD.  Her passion for creativity and student centered learning has driven her work in supporting Lufkin’s transition to taking more innovative approaches to teaching and learning through integrated computational thinking, makerspaces and community driven personalized professional learning. When Rafranz is not disrupting the status quo in East Texas, she can be found connecting with the global education community as an advocate for STEM education, teacher voice, digital equity and diversity in edtech.

Richard Culatta

Richard Culatta

Chief Innovation Officer, State of Rhode Island Office of Innovation

Richard Culatta is a leader in innovation and education, and has worked in government, non-profit, and the private sector. Prior to becoming the Chief Innovation Officer for the State of Rhode Island, Culatta was the Director of the Office of Educational Technology for the US Department of Education where he focused on using technology to close equity gaps in schools across the country. Prior to joining the Department of Education, he served as policy advisor to US Senator Patty Murray and as Chief Technology Officer at CIA University. Before his work with the federal government, Culatta was the learning technologies advisor for the David O. McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University and the Director of Operations for the Rose Education Foundation. He began working with instructional technology at the University of Rhode Island where he co-taught the universitiy's first technology integration workshops for faculty. Culatta is a certified Spanish teacher and active in promoting bilingual and arts education in public schools.


Dan RyderDan Ryder
Mt. Blue Campus

Amy LooperAmy Looper
OneSeventeen Media, Inc.

Anita GivensAnita Givens
Texas Center for Educator Excellence

Nasir QadreeNasir Qadree
Village Capital


Mark WilliamsMark Williams
Austin Community College

Corinne WeisgerberCorinne Weisgerber
St. Edward's University

Jess GartnerJess Gartner

Aaron WalkerAaron Walker
Camelback Ventures

Mark RogersMark Rogers
Meridian World School

Eileen Murphy BuckleyEileen Murphy Buckley

Darryl AdamsDarryl Adams
Adams Consulting and Edutainment Services

Carolina HuarancaCarolina Huaranca
Kapor Capital

Startup Finalists

After a competitive application process, ten startups have been selected to take the stage in March.

Adjunct Professor Link

Adjunct Professor Link • Valparaiso, IN
APL’s mission is to connect higher education institutions with qualified experts and educators who want to teach as adjunct faculty, to provide a digital tool for institutions to manage their adjunct faculty recruiting and performance data, and to give adjunct faculty the teaching resources they need to help students learn.

ALEX, Anyone’s Learning Experience

ALEX, Anyone’s Learning Experience • Washington Township, NJ
ALEX, Anyone’s Learning Experience is a platform for the future of higher education. We are a marketplace for people to advance their careers by taking individual courses from across colleges. ALEX connects working learners with the skills and network for career advancement without leaving the workplace or going into debt.

ASD Reading

ASD Reading • Las Vegas, NV
ASD Reading teaches children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to read and write with comprehension using innovative content and methods that enable the children to achieve success - even when they are non-verbal (i.e., non-speaking). It is a game changer in the field of ASD literacy and language development.


Cell-Ed • Palo Alto, CA
Cell-Ed is an award-winning tech company that teaches essential skills – language, literacy and job training - in 3-minute lessons via audio and two-way texting on any cell phone (basic or smartphone), tablet or computer. We are designed for people on the go, so they can learn 24/7.

llama zoo

LlamaZOO • Victoria, BC
LlamaZOO’s platform marries highly interactive 3D, with AR/VR, and modern teaching techniques such as adaptive quizzing, and spaced repetition, to create more collaborative, and engaging student-educator experiences. LlamaZOO’s mission is to enable 3D digitization, creation, and sharing, broadening the reach of educators, further empowering the next generation of students.

Quizling – the Knowledge Game!

Quizling – the Knowledge Game! • Canberra, ACT
Quizling is passionate about bringing the community into classrooms, and encouraging curiosity and creativity in all students and in all subjects. Working with world class galleries, libraries and organisations the Quizling platform provides students with engaging content, game play and social learning through a fun quiz platform.

Sown to Grow

Sown to Grow • Oakland, CA
Sown To Grow is a student goal-setting and reflection platform that fosters growth mindset and student agency. Students set personal learning goals, enter their own scores to track progress, and write reflections to continuously improve. The result? Better, more confident learners.

Teachers Connect

Teachers Connect • Boston, MA
TeachersConnect is laying the groundwork for a world in which teaching is no longer a solo activity. TeachersConnect also enables teacher prep programs to provide ongoing value to their graduates and gather the data they need to meet new regulatory requirements and make sweeping, evidence-based changes to their curricula.

The Graide Network

The Graide Network • Chicago, IL
The Graide Network is an online platform that connects K-12 teachers with on-demand assistants to grade and provide feedback on student work. “Graiders” are undergraduate and graduate students who are aspiring educators. Their support unlocks the power of feedback to engage students and puts more data at educators’ fingertips.

The Whether powered by Better Weekdays

The Whether powered by Better Weekdays • Saint Louis, MO
The Whether, by Better Weekdays, helps employers hire college grads easier by keeping relevant internships and jobs on a student's radar. The app provides the ideal conditions for students to interact with career services and brands in a whole new way.

For questions or more information about the Launch competition, check out the Launch FAQ or contact

SXSWedu Launch photo by Diego Donamaria