Introducing “Startup Alley” for Educause 2011

Educause 2011 has decided to create a Startup Alley on their Exhibition Floor from October 18 – 21st in Philadelphia.  This marks the first time the biggest conference in Higher Education has carved out a special area and created a unique deal for startups.

Download the flier and the guidelines.  If you have any questions, you can inquire with us or with Educause.  Just send the inquiry to contact at inigral dot com.

Getting startups in front of decision makers at schools is more important than at first glance.  IT’S HUGE!  In education, nearly all students go to schools.  If you want to build something that has a huge impact on students, on the way that they learn, on the way that that they experience education, you have to learn how to work with schools.  However, most schools are overloaded with calls from potential vendors.  They’re most actively evaluating opportunities to work with companies at conferences.  However, the economic model of conferences is that the exhibitors that pay the most and plan a whole year ahead of time get the most attention, hands down.  It’s a game that startups can’t play in.  They don’t have money to spend on marketing, and they can’t plan a year ahead of time.

“IMHO, the biggest barrier to innovation in education is that schools are not having active conversations with startups.”

The spirit of Startup Alley will be this: Shape the Future.  Startups are asked to sit at coffee tables and have conversations where their goal is to learn from potential customers – what their problems are, what the challenges are, and whether the new product and services offering are headed in the right direction, meeting a real need, or even outright desirable.  In return for keeping the conversation just that – a conversation – rather than a pitch, Educause will drive thought leaders into Startup Alley.

Making this happen has been a passion of mine for some time. I’d like to thank White House CTO, Aneesh Chopra and HHS tech leader Aman Bhandari.  They were kind enough to  introduce me to Karen Cator who introduced me to Garth Jordan at Educause to put the plan in motion.  And it all came together like magic.  It is an idea whose time has come.

So, please retweet the ____ out of this and let’s get the 15 most awesome startups that need to work with Colleges and Universities having active conversations with our schools!

Fill out this form below if you would like to participate.


  • Jake Murzy

    Better late than never – this is great news for edtech startups. I would personally like to thank you for your time and effort.

    • mpstaton

      Thanks Jake, glad you can get behind it!

  • Phelps

    Only a few years ago EDUCAUSE always turned away vendors from exhibiting. Simply no room. Now they have space for 15 startups? That’s a sign of the times. What they are likely to see is that there aren’t many technology startups right now for higher education. The budgets are pummeled. Decision makers don’t even want to take the time to learn about new things unless it’s going to help them cut budget in the first year. Forget innovation and new ideas, survival is the game right now.

    • mpstaton

      There are lots of startups working in the education space right now.  You are dead wrong about that.  And there are many startups that promise to save money, several of them have already committed.  Our institutions won’t survive unless they innovate, and they can’t innovate if they can’t even partner with innovative companies.  

    • MichelleLdiaz

      EDUCAUSE again has a wait-list this year for the exhibit hall floor and if anything
      the hall has grown in the past few years to accommodate more companies.
      Start-Up Alley was created because of a need to reinvent a traditional
      “massage station” space and make it more appealing to attendees.
      Offering start-Ups the use of this space made sense because those in attendance
      enjoy sharing their ideas, collaborating and learning about new technologies
      available and coming to the higher education community. In just the couple of
      weeks that this new event has been made available there has been decent interest. I look forward
      to seeing how this turns out, and potentially grow in the coming years.