TU Incubator member Lessoncast was recently featured by the Maryland Department of Commerce.
Over the past few years, companies that focus in education technology have flourished in the Greater Baltimore area. And with the help of the Towson University Incubator, one Baltimore-based edtech startup has helped schools across the country.
TU Incubator member Lessoncast was recently featured by the Maryland Department of Commerce website for their work with schools around the country. The company currently has over 10,000 users across 700 school districts.
Lessoncast was started in 2011 as a way to offer an online platform that simplifies and enhances teacher-to-teacher professional development. This effort includes having a model that is meant to help schools provide on-going professional development to seasoned teachers.
“I think the best way to help students achieve higher is by supporting teachers,” said Nicole Tucker-Smith, CEO of Lessoncast. “We saw this significant gap with the processes of professional development, and saw that we can really help add something to this.”
The Baltimore-based company is just one of 25 different member companies involved with the TU Incubator, and has used the Incubator’s resources to make connections throughout the region and the country.
Frank Bonsal, director of Entrepreneurship at Towson University and head of the TU Incubator, said it’s easy to get behind Lessoncast and the professional development model they are bringing to education.
“When building a company solving an education problem, you look for authentic entrepreneurs who get the problem, maybe even have lived it, and are capable of bootstrapping through product or solution proof points and attract talent and capital to iteratively scale up,” Bonsal said. “ In the case of teacher effectiveness, you look for a platform that can give credence to and evidence of teaching methods that are working and worth sharing more broadly. This is Lessoncast.”
By working with the TU Incubator, Lessoncast has been able to build valuable connections. One key connection was TEDCO, which presented Lessoncast with the Technology Commercialization Fund. This fund allowed the company to launch a pilot with Baltimore City Public Schools and the Baltimore Teachers Union.
“The biggest part of being in the incubator is that it opens doors,” Tucker-Smith said.
Through working with the Incubator, Lessoncast receives essential business support tools including the following:
Another perk is that the company joins a growing edtech “ecosystem” that has helped put Baltimore on the map nationally for edtech.
“Lessoncast is a prime example of over a dozen edtech companies supported by TU Incubator in service to Baltimore edtech and the growing edtech ecosystem in Maryland,” Bonsal said.
This past December, the TU Incubator hosted its inaugural edtech Innovation Showcase, featuring demonstrations and lightning presentations from 12 of Maryland’s edtech leaders.
At the showcase event, Bonsal suggested that as edtech continues to develop, more school districts are willing and able to pilot and test new products in order to show the efficacy of the products and services.
“This will continue to enhance the region’s reputation and yield increases in the number and quality of enterprises in the industry,” Bonsal added. “It will also improve the effectiveness of students, teachers and administrators, as ultimately, the goal is to impact education."
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: BTU: Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore