I like being involved in firsts.

At the end of September, we were fortunate to be a part of the inaugural Goldman Prize competition.  This was a competition that was put forth by the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh to encourage education students, alumni, and faculty to participate in innovative pursuits.  Supported by Richard and Renee Goldman, this prize will provide a place for those in the field of education to share and pursue their ideas that address a problem in American education.

Over the last two years, we have participated in several different competitions through our work with Pitt’s Innovation Institute.  Like the Goldman Prize, these were pitch competitions, in the likeness of “Shark Tank” (minus Mr. Cuban) in which we were competing for some monetary award to move forward with our innovation.  However, this was the first time that our innovation went in front of a group of judges who were specifically chosen to evaluate the entrepreneurs and innovators coming from the field of education.

In the past I was competing against people in medicine and biotechnology where the pain of the customer is obvious to most, problems such as treating glaucoma and stroke detection.  These are innovations for which I’m ready to write a check, even though I’m competing against them!

For this reason (and a few others), the opportunity to be selected to pitch in the Goldman Prize was a magical one.  Suddenly, I didn’t feel the disconnect from the audience.  I didn’t have to attempt to convince those in front of me that there is a customer whose pain is unusable field data.  We deal in the world where the customer is a career researcher who has grant and tenure deadlines; or the customer is an undergraduate student who has been told to capture qualitative data, who has little to no instruction and no experience, and whose grade depends on this project.  These are real problems experienced by real people, some of whom “live” in the world of education.

The experience was another great one, TripleNote was very well received, and we were awarded a prize.  So many thanks to the Goldman family for the support that was very clear in your attendance at the competition.  Thanks to Alan Lesgold, Dean and Professor Emeritus, for all your hard work and support in organizing this competition.  Thank you to the judges and the other competitors.  Your investment and interest in entrepreneurship and education will not go unnoticed.

Get involved next year!  http://app.education.pitt.edu/goldmanprize/