Working at the TU Incubator not only exposes you to the passion and creativity of entrepreneurs, but it immerses you in it. Our education technology members have big ideas that make a real impact in our community. It is a privilege to work with them day in and day out. Recently we caught up with Nancy Weinstein, Founder and CEO of Mindprint Learning.
Five Questions with Mindprint Founder & CEO Nancy Weinstein
1. Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve always had a desire to create something unique and different. That said, I wouldn’t say I decided to become an entrepreneur. It was more so that I realized there was a way to authentically improve student learning outcomes and nobody else was doing it. It almost became a question of, “How could I not?” rather than “should I?”
2. Tell me about your product? What makes your product unique?
Our interactive online solution enables teachers to quickly, easily and [near] effortlessly gather detailed information about individual student learning needs — and then provide personalized teaching recommendations. It might sound crazy given today’s heated debates about standardized testing to suggest another assessment. It is true that teachers do have plenty of good data on students’ academic achievement. However, none of these assessments pinpoint why students are struggling. None of them focus on students’ learning strengths and enable educators teach to strengths. And none of them objectively identify the most effective learning strategies for each student. Mindprint provides the data and personalized learning plans teachers need most to help all students learn.
What’s more, Mindprint has significant scientific backing. Our assessment was developed by neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine through a National Institutes of Mental Health grant. We have over 20 years of validating research. Our evidence-based strategies are linked to each student’s assessment results. Mindprint is the first platform that can universally and affordably identify student learning strengths and needs and tie them to actionable classroom implementations. Our personalized learning plans are leading to improved reading and math achievement, better study skills, and higher student engagement.
3. What do you see as your main challenge going forward?
Anyone who has ever sold to schools knows the challenges of the marketplace, including fragmented buyers, high cost-sensitivity, and a lot of influencers involved in each decision. And that’s just on the sales side! Mindprint faces all the traditional obstacles of selling to schools. Plus, we have the challenges that come with being first to market.
Many educators don’t realize that neuroscience has advanced so significantly that we can accurately assess students’ learning without big machines and lab coats or hours and hours of high cost evaluations. In short, in addition to the inherent market challenges, Mindprint’s biggest challenge is educating schools of how far science has advanced so that they know what is now possible.
4. What excites you the most about what you do? The least?
I love knowing that schools using our solution can elevate learning for every student at every grade level. We know we can do as much to elevate top performers as we can to support struggling learners. And that’s just in the present. We are building the largest longitudinal data set of how student learning needs change over time. Not only will we continue to meet students where they are, but we will be able to anticipate their needs and support them before challenges begin to interfere with outcomes. When you think about the potential to increase engagement and improve outcomes in all learners, it’s hard not to get excited about the future.
What I like least is probably not much different from what I see is our greatest challenge, which is the amount of time it generally takes for the “system” to move. We have teachers and principals who are excited to implement Mindprint but are waiting for funds to be allocated, sign-offs from multiple constituencies, etc., etc. Of course, I understand why that is the case, but it’s frustrating to know that we could be helping kids immediately, enabling them to learn, and mitigating their struggles, and students must wait. If a kid goes to the doctor and there’s something wrong, a doctor wouldn’t be allowed to wait to give treatment. Why would we ever wait even a day longer than needed to help a student learn?
5. How has becoming a TU Incubator member company helped your business?
I started Mindprint in my 40’s when I already had my own kids settled in school. I didn’t have the option of a lot of young entrepreneurs to relocate into an incubator and get the many benefits of collaboration and mentorship. TU has given Mindprint the opportunity to be part of a community of educators, share ideas, and learn from other ed tech leaders. It’s great to finally have that kind of support and community.
Bonus Question: What are your ambitions for Mindprint?
Quite simply, I believe every child should have a Mindprint. Every child should have the benefit of objective insight into where he shines and where he will need support. Every bit of research evidence says that understanding how you learn is the most effective way to be successful. Over time we expect to build the most accurate longitudinal data set of how students’ learning strengths and needs evolve, so not only can we support students where they are, but we can effectively anticipate difficulties before they arise. The potential is astounding. The best part is that the Mindprint assessment takes one hour using group administration, and students only need to take it every three years. Giving every kid a Mindprint is undoubtedly doable and the long-term potential for students and society is astronomical.
This post was originally published on Medium.