Great Tech Expedition to USA

George Burgess, founder and CEO of Gojimo, a mobile exam preparation app, recounts the Great Tech Expedition to the USA

Gojimo was one of five edtech startups chosen by the Education Foundation to attend the Great Tech Expedition, an annual trade mission supported by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the Mayor of London. The other edtech companies included were Century, Knodium, RefMe and ShowMyHomework

Trip organisers, Sam Michel of Chinwag and Keith Moses of UKTI, had arranged five rigorous days in Chicago, Boston and New York. We were in for an exhausting week!

The highlight in Chicago was a visit to the 1871 incubator which has recently teamed up with DeVry Education Group, an education powerhouse in the USA, to offer an edtech incubator programme. 1871 is already the leading startup hub in Chicago (think Google Campus in London) and we were excited to meet with Jeff Dunn of DeVry Education, who is now permanently based in 1871.

Next, it was onto Boston where we were able to sit down with the partners of LearnLaunch, an organisation offering an edtech startup accelerator as well as a co-working space. We were introduced to one of the founders on its programme, Thomas Ketchell of Hstry, who shared his experience breaking into the US schools market. 

Our final stop of the trip was New York City, where we were very lucky to be invited to a drinks party hosted by McGraw-Hill Education. This small gathering included many senior McGraw-Hill Education executives, including CEO David Levin himself, as well as a number of local NYC edtech startups. It was by far one of the best events of the week, with everyone leaving with great contacts and partnership opportunities. 

On our final day in New York, we all presented at a pitch event hosted by Fried Frank. Each founder had five minutes to pitch their business and answer questions from the venture capital and angel investors in the room. The event was a big success for a number of our founders, with a few coming away with follow up meetings.

As expected, it was an exhausting week, but all of us came away with an incredible network of contacts in the US, potential partners and, in some cases, potential investors! The best part of the trip for me though was being able to spend a whole week with the founders of edtech companies at a similar stage to my own: we were able to bounce ideas off of one another, share thoughts and concerns about the edtech space, and learn from one another’s experiences. I hope we find ourselves in the same circles again soon!

George Burgess is the founder and CEO of Gojimo, a mobile exam preparation app. For a more detailed account of the Great Tech Expedition, see the Gojimo blog. 

Photos courtesy of credits to Sam Michel, Chinwag.

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