May 06, 2012 at 10:04 AM EDT
7 New Educational Startups Founded By Minorities in Tech
One of today's most challenging yet promising markets is the educational system. If you want to see startups hungry to disrupt an industry, look no further. Founders are trying to solve the problems plaguing our education system: including reconciling student debt, providing students with the skills required to land a job both before and after graduation, and offering the best course material online regardless of age, location and educational level. Millions of people are headed to the Internet to learn. And now everyone, from professors to entrepreneurs, are looking to launch a platform to solve the problem of a broken traditional educational system -- And many believe that Silicon Valley will have the answers.
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Editor’s note: Wayne Sutton is an Entrepreneur, Advisor and Partner of NewMe Accelerator, a residential technology start-up accelerator/incubator for businesses that are led by under-represented minorities in the technology industry.

One of today’s most challenging yet promising markets is the educational system. If you want to see startups hungry to disrupt an industry, look no further. Founders are trying to solve the problems plaguing our education system: including reconciling student debt, providing students with the skills required to land a job both before and after graduation, and offering the best course material online regardless of age, location and educational level.

Millions of people are headed to the Internet to learn. And now everyone, from professors to entrepreneurs, are looking to launch a platform to solve the problem of a broken traditional educational system  – And many believe that Silicon Valley will have the answers.

If you look at the demographics (high school dropout rates, high unemployment and the number of people taking online courses) you’ll find a common denominator; minorities are leading in three categories. In 2011, only 57 percent of blacks and Latinos graduated from high school, compared to 80 percent of Asians and 78 percent of whites. While data reports that only 1% of tech startups are founded by African Americans, you’ll find a significant number of educational startups founded by minorities (women, Hispanics and African Americans) in the now-increasing 1% of minority tech startups.

So where are all these startups hiding you ask? Well here are seven up-and-coming educational startups founded by minorities that I believe will have an significant impact in the educational space  – not just for minorities but for anyone looking to learn online, current students and teachers alike.

1. UniversityNow
The mission of UniversityNow is to help ensure that affordable, high quality post-secondary education is available to people everywhere. To accomplish this, UniversityNow is building a network of the most affordable and accessible accredited universities in the world, starting with the launch of New Charter University.
Gene Wade, Co-Founder

2. Houlton Institute
Houlton packages courses into credentialed and non-credentialed programs targeting adult learners. By revenue sharing with partnering institutions, partners are able to monetize their expertise. Houlton creates one-of-a-kind online programs from its unique and exclusive partner network, which are disseminated via Houlton’s scalable, personalized, web-based learning platform.
Dennis Robinson and Dan Merritts, Co-Founders

3. Demo Lesson
Demo Lesson is a revolutionary online hiring platform that gives teachers the power to market themselves.
Mandela Schumacher Hodge and Brian Martinez, Co-Founders

4. Qeyno Labs
Qeyno Labs works with local partners and schools to bring technology-enabled career discovery into under-served classrooms using game-like rewards and mentorship from successful professionals.
Kalimah Priforce, Co-Founder

5. StockOfU
StockOfU allows individuals and businesses to buy “shares” of college students in order to help subsidize a student’s education costs.
Ty McDuffie, Founder

6. Pathbrite
Pathbrite delivers next-generation solutions that help students and learners of all ages collect, track and showcase a lifetime of achievement, and recommend pathways for continuous success.
Heather Hiles, Founder and CEO

7. Code Academy
Code Academy is an 11-week program that teaches people how to build web applications.
Neal Sales-Griffin and Mike McGee, Co-Founders

With these seven startups, and many, many more launching shortly, the educational system is ready for disruption. And after that, the real question is “What impact will these educational startups will have on our economy?”  And “Will they prepare students to land qualified jobs after graduation? Or provide them the skills to launch their own businesses?”

Do you see the educational system being changed by these new startups?



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