Boston is home to some of the smartest students in the world. But now the home of the revolution is becoming the home of some of the hottest new startups in the education field. From textbooks to classrooms, these awesome young companies are changing the way students get “wicked smaht”.
Textbooks are the college student’s biggest start-of-the-semester fear; they break your bank and your back, and half the time a professor barely consults it. Hundreds of companies, like Chegg, Amazon, and Valore, have taken a stab at solving the textbook problem, but Boston based Boundless, may have hit this one on the nose. Boundless compiles learning resources from its “Open Education Resource” in accordance with a student’s course material. The application offers textbooks at a drastically reduced cost alongside quizzes, flashcards, and other study materials to help students study better than they would with a 500 page hardcover. “Whatever ends up replacing the textbook, it’s not going to look like, act, or feel like a textbook,” Co-founder Brian Balfour said in an interview with Techcrunch. Whatever they end up looking like, Boundless has already made some serious noise in the space. Founded in 2011, the startup has already raised two rounds of funding and multiple lawsuits from textbook publishers in its efforts to disrupt the industry. Boundless is already being used in over 1000 universities with 80% of students on the platform saying they received the grade they wanted or higher.
Teaching is probably the most difficult field to evaluate. Outside factors and subjectiveness consistently prevent an accurate evaluation of any teacher. TeachPoint is aiming to make the teacher evaluation process easier school systems everywhere. The system is completely customizable and streamlines evaluations through a web based platform, allowing teachers, principals, and district heads to add in their share of input in real time. “The ultimate goal is effective teaching, in every classroom, every day, every year,” said Sean Gilrein, Superintendent of Dudley-Charlton schools, “TeachPoint makes the evaluation system immediate, time sensitive and efficient”.
After the caps get tossed, students are still finding themselves in a sea of student debt. A new web-based service is analyzing ways to save recent grads money on their massive student loans. The experts at Prime Student Loan need just a few pieces of personal information to attack your personal student loans and search for ways to consolidate and lower interests rates on your money due. “Why should a grad who’s employed and making payments on a loan have the same interest rate as a freshman who’s undecided?” Co-founder Derek Kaknes said in an interview with Boston Business Journal, “But there’s a lot of friction in the process of refinancing these loans, and one of the major problems is a lack of competition”. Their intense algorithm matches users with Federal Income Based Repayments, Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs, Federal Direct Consolidation, and Private Refinancing Opportunities. All this slashes monthly payments and often cuts down on interest payments by up to 40%, according to PSL. The company launched its Beta in December of 2012 and has since participated in the boston-based MassChallenge startup accelerator, where it took hold of one of the program’s coveted Finalist spots, and raised a $250,000 seed round through CommonAngels in a campaign to reach even more students. Best part of the service: it’s absolutely free to use.