“Hack-a-thon with a Cause” helps innovate solutions

From mind’s eye to marketplace: Startup Weekend EDU launches in Madison,

inspiring ed tech invention

Educator feedback and expert coaches guide entrepreneurs in problem solving and product development process during immersive 54-hour event


MADISON, Wis. (July 11, 2016) – WeThinkBig, a Madison-based non-profit organization dedicated to improving educational experiences through educational innovation, is heading an effort to bring the nationally acclaimed Startup Weekend for Education (SWEDU) to Madison on July 22-24 at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery Building (330 N Orchard St.). Educators, innovators and entrepreneurs will start from scratch to create products that address solutions to educational needs during this immersive 54-hour event. Tickets are still available at www.madisonswedu2016.splashthat.com.


People of all skill sets – developers, educators, software us/designers, and digital marketers —  and experience levels can apply their skills to help turn a promising concept into a prototype that can make a difference for our students and teachers.  Over the course of the weekend, brand-new concepts and solutions will be created and pitched to attendees. Participants will then form teams to test those concepts and build prototypes, with guidance from expert coaches in education and all areas of business. The weekend will close with a final team competition to determine the most promising concepts, plans and prototypes. Judges will select winners to be awarded free SXSWedu passes, courtesy of the NBCUniversal Open Possibilities Challenge, free tickets to Forward Fest, annual membership at 100 State, and other prizes.


SWEDU is powered by 4.0 Schools, which offers a platform for educators, technologists and entrepreneurs to create bold solutions for problems in schools across the nation. This will be the first SWEDU event held in the state of Wisconsin. Previous SWEDU events have been held in major cities in the United States such as Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Kansas City and Washington D.C. and around the world.


“We approached 4.0 Schools to bring SWEDU to Madison after talking with educators about their challenges and needs, and recognizing the potential power of the tremendous education and business talent in the region,” said Kathe Crowley Conn, CEO of WeThinkBig, Inc. “SWEDU creates an exciting and engaging venue for local educators, software developers and designers, and entrepreneurs to work together to jointly understand and develop solutions for real-life issues that teachers face.”


Expert coaches from businesses and organizations include senior professionals from: Filament Games, Field Day Lab.Org, Noble Applications, StudyBlue, Michael Best & Friedrich, UW Law & Entrepreneur Clinic, Cooperative Education Services Agencies 1 & 3, UW Extension, Department of Public Instruction, EatStreet, UW-D2P, Wisconsin Center for Educational Products & Services, and C. Blohm & Associates.  These leaders will mentor the competing teams on the educational, financial, marketing and legal facets of product development.


The blue-ribbon panel of judges will be announced later this week.


Gold sponsors include: NBC Universal, 4.0 Schools, Great Lakes Higher Education Casualty Corporation, UW Extension, 100 State, C. Blohm & Associates and WeThinkBig. Silver sponsors include: Wisconsin Center for Education Products & Services, WiscNet and 4490 Ventures. Other sponsors include: CUNA Mutual Foundation and SOPHIA Learning.



About WeThinkBig

WeThinkBig is a local independent, non-profit organization that brings innovators across the education, business and public/private sectors to collaborate, learn and advance excellence in education and student learning. It works to: 1) inspire and shape a shared vision for educational innovation in the region; 2) empower educators by providing tools, experiences and resources to realize that vision; and 3) engage across sectors to create partnerships critical for success.  WeThinkBig created and hosts the Sparks! Innovation Showcase series, Camp Mad Media, Happy Hour of Code, EdTech Sampler and other professional learning opportunities for educators and business professionals in greater Dane County.


About 4.0 Schools

4.0 Schools is an early-stage education incubator that brings educators, entrepreneurs and technologists together to build solutions that redefine how we teach and learn. To date, 4.0 has launched 23 ventures and trained hundreds in its approach to innovation in education.



For more information, contact:

Sierra Hartman

(608) 516-9505




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