George Burgess takes us through what it's like to join the Great Tech Expedition
Gojimo was one of five edtech companies selected by the Education Foundation to attend the Great Tech Expedition, an annual trade mission underwritten by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the Mayor of London. Other startups on the trip came from a variety of sectors, most focused on B2B SAAS solutions.
Trip organisers Sam Michel of Chinwag and Keith Moses of UKTI had us on a rigorous five day schedule, with back-to-back meetings in Chicago, Boston and New York, so we knew we were in for an exhausting week.
The highlight in Chicago was a tour of the 1871 incubator. The incubator has become the leading startup hub in Chicago (think Google Campus, in London).
What was particularly exciting for us their recently announced edtech programme in collaboration with DeVry Education Group, an education powerhouse in the USA with over 85 campuses across the country.
Next, it was onto Boston, where we’d spend less than 24 hours. Whilst our fellow founders were visiting the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology, we edtech founders sat down with the partners at LearnLaunch, an impressive organisation combining an accelerator and a coworking space solely for edtech companies.
Following an afternoon networking event at FAMA PR agency, it was on to the train station for our trip to NYC. Thanks to our poor rendition of the British national anthem, we were able to secure a train carriage to ourselves, and many of us took the time to catch up on sleep.
The more sensible among us, however, started preparing the formal, three-minute pitches we were expected to present in NYC.
On our first evening in NYC, we attended a very special event at McGraw-Hill Education. In attendance were many senior executives, including CEO David Levin himself.
This was one of the best events of the week, with all parties leaving well-networked, and with great partnership opportunities.
The final morning came around a little too soon as many of us had stayed up late into the night refining our pitches for the VC event at Fried Frank.
Fried Frank’s Dan Glazer introduced each founder, giving us five minutes to pitch our company and answer questions. The event went extremely well with most of us coming away with a number of follow-up meetings.
What a week! Interestingly, I found the best aspect of the trip was in fact the opportunity to spend five days away from the office with 18 founders who are running startups at a similar stage to my own.
It’s so easy to get stuck in the day-to-day office life of a small business: escaping for just a few days, with like-minded individuals, can work wonders and provide a new perspective on our work. I would strongly recommend the experience to all founders.
George Burgess is the Founder and CEO of Gojimo, a mobile exam preparation app. Gojimo launched earlier this year after raising over $1 million from Index Ventures and JamJar Investments. For a more detailed account of the Great Tech Expedition, see the Gojimo blog.
Image Credits: Sam Michel, Chinwag