Balefire Labs, LLC

Class: 2013 Winter Accelerator

Company Description

Are you a parent or educator who has been frustrated by the process of finding high quality, effective, educational apps for your children or students to use on the iPad or tablet device? We are. The app stores have user reviews, but they are so subjective and not very helpful. But what if there was a service that provided app reviews that were standardized, with objective review criteria....where you could easily compare and contrast apps by subject or grade level? A site that is run by learning scientists, educational researchers and teachers who know about principles of great instructional design and usability design? And what if you could go there and in less than five minutes find the best available apps for teaching your kids? That's the vision of Balefire Labs. We want to help parents, educators and, ultimately, kids to find and use the best educational apps on the market. With more than 115,000 ed apps in the iTunes and Google Play stores, figuring out what's good and what's not is nearly impossible. And as the number of iPads, Android tablets, Kindle devices and iPod Touches that kids use increases, the time's not far off when just about every parent and teacher will have the same problem. Let us help. We'll point you to the best apps, saving you time and helping you feel good about the time your kids spend using devices.


Thank goodness for Sunday this week.  I need to take a breath!

It was a whirlwind of a week, to say the least.  We are less than 60 days from our beta launch and the intensity is rising.  We are excited to have three app developers who want to help us market Balefire to put together a list of preferred activities for them to do on our behalf!

We spent Friday and Saturday at the LearnLaunch conference at MIT.  The LearnLaunch conference targeted edtech entrepreneurs, investors, educators, and college students.  It was a crowd of people focused on how we can use technology to improve education and student learning outcomes.  And the amazing part for me is that being at that conference, in that group, was the most comfortable and at-home that I have ever felt at a conference. Ever.  And I go to a lot of professional conferences, so that's saying something.  But these were people who care about measuring outcomes, who care about how the Common Core State Standards can help us better examine performance, instead of just bubbling in scantrons, and who are NOT fans of Diane Ravitch.  And they believe, as I do, that technology can really help.  In other words, people like me.

I watched pitches from entrepreneurs who have already secured funding and was gratified at how similar their approach to pitching was to mine.  I attended a session with a panel of venture and angel funders and heard about what they are wanting to hear in pitches.  And all of the entrepreneurs were encouraged to join Accelerators and Incubators that specifically target edtech because of the fact that education is such a different market from any other.  Education is a trust market and that makes a big difference.

The networking was fantastic...we walked away with two Boston-area school districts that are interested in serving as pilot sites for us (we already have a pilot site in Texas, but local is critical for as much direct observation as possible), two meetings with Angels, a venture investor who is willing to give us feedback and advice on our pitch deck, a bunch of new contacts (hello, LinkedIn!) and many new twitter followers for Balefire Labs.  A lot for two days!!

So that was lots of feel good stuff.  Now back to work. :)