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A Dwight Connection Makes for a Winning Team at NYC Startup Conference!

28 hours. Two days. One great idea.

28 hours. Two days. One great idea.

At the 2016 Startup Weekend Education Conference, an intensive experience — not unlike our own Spark Tank, but sped up dramatically over the course of one weekend — Matt Moran, Dwight's Director of Technology and Innovation, found himself working alongside alum Bianca Cabrera ͗08. Each registered for this conference, designed to bring educators, business pros, designers, and developers together to tackle big challenges in education through entrepreneurship, not knowing the other. They found themselves on the same team working on the development of an idea, which Bianca, a special education teacher, proposed: To create a modern solution for collaborating on, and tracking the progress of students with, individualized education plans (IEPs).

Problem: Six million children in the US have IEPs and every educational district uses different templates ─ on paper ─ which are static documents, lengthy, and updated only once a year.

Solution: Goals Genius, an easy-to-use software program designed to monitor progress in real time; and to engage general classroom teachers, special ed teachers, and school administrators as a coordinated team to set goals and support student success.

Matt, Bianca, and their fellow team members developed Goals Genius. They went from pitching the idea to prototype and presentation before expert judges, alongside nine other teams, and emerged as the grand-prize winner! During that time, they were industrious and produced sample web pages, a dashboard, a mobile app, previewing how Goals Genius would work. They also put together a mini-business plan outlining the market potential, costs, and projected revenue in order to break even by 2018.

"At Dwight, the International Baccalaureate design cycle informs what we teach students in design class and much of how we guide students through the different development stages in Spark Tank. We focus on helping students to identify and understand a problem and the user group or audience, on conducting research of existing solutions, prototyping, testing, refining, and marketing. I brought this experience to the Startup conference, which helped my team accomplish its goals," reports Matt. "It was gratifying to see how well our Spark Tank approach worked; and I look forward to bringing what I learned from the business pros, designers, and developers on our team back to campus to help Spark Tank grow from its pilot stage to the next level."

In addition to claiming first place, Bianca, who works at the Mott Hall Bronx High School, will receive assistance in bringing Goals Genius to market. The spoils of winning include the opportunity to participate gratis in the next round conference for startups; the chance to consult with and pitch to local-area Google developers; and free access to a co-working space for a month. We expect to hear that Goals Genius will become the next great innovation in special education nationwide!