The five co-founders of SproutEd pitched a new mobile app to one of the heaviest hitters in venture capital, Andy Weissman, Partner at Union Square Ventures (USV). While listening to entrepreneurs pitch their ideas is nothing out of the ordinary for Weissman, SproutEd’s pitch was anything but ordinary – each member of SproutEd’s team is still in high school.
How did five New York City high schools students get to pitch at USV, the firm that helped launch transformative web properties such as Twitter, Tumblr, SoundCloud and Kickstarter? They earned their place at the table by winning NYC Generation Tech’s 2nd annual Demo Night on September 19th.
NYC Generation Tech (GenTech), conceived and run by NFTE NY Metro and the New York City Economic Development Corporation(NYCEDC), took place over 11 weeks during the summer. The program’s 43 student participants learned the principles of entrepreneurship and received advanced training on how to write code and create mobile apps. GenTech culminated at Demo Night where SproutEd beat out 8 other student teams after demoing their product and pitching its market potential to a judging panel that included the likes of Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder of reddit, and Dave Gilboa, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, of Warby Paker.
SproutEd is an education network that brings the classroom experience to mobile devices, empowering students to collaborate with peers and discuss school-related topics and events. The app is to be released on Google Play soon. SproutEd was designed and co-founded by Karishma Maraj, Melverton Hunter, Jayson Isaac, Alan Tenemaza, and Jin Yan Ruan.
Of his experience in GenTech, SproutEd’s Operation Officer, Melverton Hunter writes: “GenTech changed the way I think in many ways…I actually have the chance to create my own business. When I was younger, I never thought I would have the skills to create a business, but with the skills GenTech gave me I believe that I can be a technological mogul. Generation Tech opened many doors for me and I can't wait to see what's next.” And this is what sets GenTech apart from other tech-based educational programs: not only do students learn to code, they also receive entrepreneurship training so that they can employ their newly learned skills to create businesses.
After demoing their app and presenting their business plan, the SproutEd team sat down for an open discussion with Weissman and USV Analyst, Brian Watson. Weissman and Watson provided the team with helpful advice on how to grow a user base and encouraged them to bring their app to market as quickly as possible. If the app gains traction early on, follow up conversations could be in the future. As SproutEd continues to develop their product, we will continue to follow their progress.
Thanks to GenTech, NFTE NY Metro, and NYCEDC the next generation of tech entrepreneurs is getting a head start in the industry!