• Posted on March 05, 2011
hacking education

Hacking Education

Because education is too important to stay the way it is.

My blog Hacking Education was an early aggregation of my online reading and thoughts regarding the coming disruption of education. In Feb. 2011 my good friend and Teach for America corp member, Jon Woahn, joined me as a contributor on the blog.

I think about education every single day (and have for years). It is the thing that has shaped everything from my reading list to my career.

An invention from the dawning of the industrial era, our education system serves the needs demanded of industrial times. An exponential explosion of innovation has occurred. Currently, the output of the education system and the demands of the technology era are so at odds that the stress is at a breaking point.  We are on the cusp of an educational revolution and I want in the fight.

As an entrepreneur, I see an entire $800B annual industry (American education spending) on the edge of disruption. As an observer of technology and education, I believe the forces are already at work that are driving the cost of learning towards zero. I believe we will be enabled to educate the world, for increasingly diminished costs.

Education  is the siren’s call that I cannot escape.

  • Posted on March 05, 2011
edtech

Ed Tech Entrepreneur

Stanford dSchool :: NewSchools Venture Fund :: Teach for America

The Lab is a joint program of Teach For America and the venture philanthropy firm NewSchools Venture Fund. The program is launched in collaboration with the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. The goal of the EdTech Lab is to address the education achievement gap between students from low and high-income communities and the American decline in educational attainment.

Our children are to be left to solve the energy crisis, global warming, increased natural disasters, threat of Chinese hegemony, the extinction of social security, an inverse tax-base as baby boomers’ health costs out pace the tax-paying population growth, among the completely fresh challenges that will emerge in the coming years.

There are countless forces prepared to defend the status quo and more than a million reasons it is improbable that we could ever succeed in making transformative change. But for every naysayer we remind ourselves of the students who still dream this world can be theirs.

Our hope for the future rests in building the system that will empower this nation to solve all of these problems. Let’s create an education system that can teach our children how to innovate and solve the problems of the technology era.

  • Posted on March 05, 2011
zinch

Zinch

I am more than a test score.

I was number seven on the team. I joined post-launch but pre-revenue, pre-money. I left my consulting job on the heels of a promotion and just three weeks after the birth of my daughter. I took a 50% pay cut.

But, “It’ll work. I know it”, I told myself.

From day one: My family didn’t approve, especially my father, a self-made man whose childhood was spent with bills rarely getting paid, electricity getting turned on and off, and food not always on the table. To him, gambling on high risk dreams with one’s family at stake was irresponsible and selfish.

And there was truth to his cautions. My Zinch salary couldn’t cover the costs of my young family. I needed the support of my father who didn’t approve of my course of action. I asked to move my family into my parent’s basement.

“It’ll work. I promise”, I told my father.

Within weeks: All of the company’s metrics that had been going up started going down. We knew we needed more seasoned leadership. We targeted Anne Dwane, co-founder of Military.com who had sold her company to Monster.com. We flew her to Salt Lake City, showed her the operations, then took her to a coffee shop to close our sale.

“It’ll work. We promise,” we told her.

Within months: Our product was seeing success, but we weren’t yet charging our clients. It was time to prove what we had promised ourselves and others. Fall of that year we attended the largest conference of college admissions counselors, NACAC, to sell our wares.

“Social media is the future. Replacing print with web is ‘green’. It will save you money. It is more targeted, relevant, and meaningful. It’s the way of the future…

“Zinch will work. We promise,” we told them.

Year One: Having proven universities were willing to pay and students were benefitting from the product it was time to scale. We needed to raise money if we were going to be in a position to grow our company and capture the opportunity.  By this time I had transitioned to Director of Finance and was supporting our CEO in pitching VC’s.

“It’ll work. We promise,” read our closing pitch slide.

Year Two: We saw an opportunity to take our business international but needed the right partner to navigate the Chinese ecosystem and regulations. Tom Melcher, a US expat, serial entrepreneur and author of the best selling book on Chinese students studying in the USA was our man.

He knew the potential of the opportunity and shopped it with a dozen other companies. We didn’t want to see this opportunity lost to one of our competitors.

“It’ll work. We promise,” we told him.

Year Three: Three million students have used our site to connect with hundreds of colleges world-wide. We have awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and matched students to billions in other scholarship funds.

It’s working.

Zinch is a platform than lets students showcase their many talents and be recruited by universities and grad schools worldwide—including the likes of Stanford, MIT, Dartmouth, & Yale—and currently serves over 3  million students. Zinch is backed by New World Ventures and has operations in the US, China, and Middle East.

  • Posted on March 05, 2011
Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman

Management Consulting :: Suit

Oliver Wyman is an international management consulting firm that specializes in strategy, operations, risk management, organizational transformation, and leadership development.

I worked on two cases while I was with the firm.

The first was a multi-billion dollar, international litigation case involving airplanes and insurance. Did some pretty nifty work including building Monte Carlo simulation models and preparing arguments for the London Court of International Arbitration.

The second was working with Microsoft on the genesis of Bing.com.

  • Posted on March 05, 2011
impact international

Impact International

2009 Service Mission to Bolivia & Peru

In May 2009 my brother Daniel and I went to Peru and Bolivia with Impact International, the non-profit founded by Daniel with the purpose of involving students in the support of other worthy, established non-profits that don’t have a student arm.  The purpose of the trip was to document and create marketing materials for the non-profit Deseret International, a medical non-profit that supports local third-world doctors in performing corrective surgeries on cleft lip, cataracts, and clubbed feet.

It was an amazing trip. We were able to deliver hundreds of pounds of stainless steel surgical instruments donated from US hospitals to the very much undersupplied doctors in Bolivia performing the cleft palet surgeries. We were able to help serve patients and document the process to help bring awareness to the cause. We also shot footage for a piece that Impact did on food and starvation and was in a big way the genesis for what is now EcoScraps.

We made stops in:

  • Cuzco, Peru
  • Puno, Peru
  • La Paz, Bolivia
  • Lima, Peru

Cleft Lip

I grew up serving within the ranks of Operation Smile, another non-profit dedicated to fixing cleft lips in third world children, and though I have seen thousands of pictures just like these, it was incredible to actually get to see the children and hear the stories of pain told by the mothers when others treat their children so terribly. To see the surgeries was incredible, that in a few hours and at the cost of a few hundred dollars, a person’s entire life can change so drastically.

It was an amazing experience and I am grateful for how lucky I am to be blessed with a healthy body, a beautiful and healthy family, for the ability and freedoms to work and provide for ourselves, for a brother who is so proactive in making the world a better place, and the many factors that facilitated and allowed me to participate in this trip.

Those interested in supporting Deseret International can do so by making a donation here. For $20 a complete surgery can be performed, changing a child’s entire life. This cost per surgery is the lowest I have found anywhere in the world, and is facilitated by a genius and well executed model used by Deseret International. Through the use of donated American medical supplies, supporting the local doctors, Deseret is able to support these doctors in doing the surgeries for just a few dollars.

 

  • Posted on March 05, 2011
canada

Toronto Canada

Canada Toronto West Mission

I am a Mormon. As part of the faith there is an opportunity to serve for two years as a full-time missionary for the church. When I was 18 I filled in an application to serve which was certainly the largest commitment I had worked for thus far in my life (including college). I had to save enough money to pay for the costs of living for the two year duration. It required a lot of faith and commitment given when you apply you don’t know where in the world you will be called to serve.

My call came to serve in Toronto, Canada. I spent the years 2003 and 2004 in Ontario, Canada, knocking doors, teaching people about Jesus Christ, and the message of the Mormon faith that the church that Jesus Christ established during his ministry has again been established, including the priesthood and a living prophet.

During my two years in Canada I learned a lot about faith, love, and hard work. As a missionary you serve 7 days a week, 12 hour days, mostly outside on your feet. Your only communication home is via email once per week–no phone calls, no internet other than email. I learned what it is to be noticeable different, to stand out from a crowd, and to be discriminated against for something I believe in.

Sharing faith with others, seeing people change their lives in ways they never thought was possible, seeing people find meaning where previously there was none–it is an amazing experience. As a 19 year old–it is especially formative.