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EdTech Startup Weekend Company Chimes Their Way into the Startup Industry

Techstars Startup Weekend Iowa City took place in July at MERGE, where the focus was Education and Technology. Participants got into four teams and built a company in 54 hours that would solve the challenges faced in education today. Each group presented their six-minute final pitch to three judges, followed by a four-minute Q&A.

The four teams were:

  1. First Place: B Sharp — an application that provides interactive music lessons and individualized instructions

  2. Second Place: The Fork — project-based curriculum where students can receive revenue from their projects

  3. Third Place: BehaVioR — a VR behavior assessment platform

  4. Fourth Place: Battle Stocks — teaches stock diversification strategies to students through the use of mobile gaming

B Sharp, founded by Nicole Williams, has joined the startup world. Nicole is currently a sophomore at the University of Iowa, where she is double majoring in Education Studies & Human Relations and Organ Performance. Since Startup Weekend, she has been working out of MERGE to accelerate B Sharp forward. This was Nicole’s first startup weekend experience, here is what she has to say about it:

“My favorite part about EdTech Startup Weekend was giving my initial pitch. I took what was a small idea and turned it into a six minute elevator pitch and ended up getting first place, which was very exciting. This was my first startup weekend experience, so I was surprised at the amount of support you had throughout the weekend. For anyone considering participating in the event in the future, my advice is to just get up and pitch an idea even if you think it is worthless. It’s a judgement-free zone."

How she came up with the idea:

"I got my idea from my passion for music, I have always liked teaching music and sharing music with others. Since this Startup Weekend was focused on education and technology, my idea is to teach people music using technology. B Sharp will initially be a free (ad supported) mobile app that will teach people the basics of music. The biggest issue of music education is that it is not affordable or easily approachable. That is why I want this app to be the Duolingo (a mobile app that offers language lessons) for music education."

What has she been up to since Startup Weekend:

"Since startup weekend, I have done a lot of things to take B Sharp to the next level. I met with educators and music professors through the University of Iowa. They provided great feedback on how people learn on the education side and what they need to learn on the music side."

Where she sees B-Sharp going in the next five years:

"In the next five years, I hope that B Sharp is successful and makes an impact on music education by being a more approachable and accessible option for anyone interested in learning music. I hope that people who can’t get access to music education are able to gain that experience through B Sharp.”

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