ER Accelerator recently announced its summer 2013 NYC class, which marks its fifth class. Today, Jonathan Modica, CEO and Founder of Nutmeg Education, an online assessment creation platform for K-12 teachers, tells AlleyWatch about his decision to apply to ER Accelerator and shares his thoughts on New York’s startup landscape.
Tell us about the decision to apply for ER Accelerator.
My co-founders and I have had a lot of experience in our vertical (education technology), but none of us have an MBA or are serial entrepreneurs. We knew we needed an incubator that could give us the foundation of business “know-how” and could help us avoid some of the mistakes that first-time entrepreneurs make. ERA has a network of 200+ mentors, so we knew they were the best fit for Nutmeg.
Tell us about the product that you are launching.
Nutmeg is an assessment platform for K-12 teachers. We give teachers the ability to create beautiful assessments in minutes. Think about Mr. Magoo, a 6th grade math teacher who needs to build a quiz and wants to make sure he is covering state standards. Through our crowdsourced system, Mr. Magoo would build a quiz based on questions that other 6th grade math teachers are creating and using for their own quizzes. After a student takes this standards-based assessment on a mobile device or desktop computer, we send that student, their parents and their teacher a report on how they’re doing, and even recommend free videos and games that can help the student in areas in which he or she is weak. We’re solving the problem of helping teachers collect data on their students, and leveraging that data in meaningful ways to drive instruction.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
The EdTech market is huge. In 2012, it was estimated at over $8 billion and grew 17% in just 1 year.
What is your take on the current scene in New York today?
We are a Florida-based company that is here temporarily, but the NY scene obviously has a lot more to offer. It’s tough finding enough time to take advantage of all the great meetups and startup events that happen on a daily basis here. The recent growth of startup accelerators and coworking spaces in NYC signals an emerging, vibrant startup community that rivals the West Coast.
Where does your company fit in the ecosystem?
There are a lot of EdTech companies trying to help teachers assess their students. Our platform is driven by the teachers using it, and we believe that keeping teachers in the driver’s seat (rather than removing them from the equation) is the best way to help students. Adaptive learning programs, while promising, typically circumvent teachers and don’t really value them as professionals. We are much more of a tool for teachers, rather than just another fancy tech solution.
Read about the other startups selected for the 2013 ER Accelerator Summer Class.