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Educelerate Twin Cities: EdTech Founders' Stories

Educelerate Twin Cities:  Founders’ Forum—Conversations with 3 Founders of Edu-tech Companies April 16, 2014 (5:30-7:30 p.m.)

Join us for an always in-demand panel discussion with practical advice and stories from the founders of local edtech companies (made all the more timely given our Twin Cities StartupWeekend EDU event starting May 2nd).  Moderated by veteran entrepreneur and educator Rajiv Tandon, our panel features the founders of GuideK12, NAIKU and Sophia Learning.

And a special thank you to Metropolitan State University for graciously hosting the event!

Panelists include:

• Chuck Amos: Chuck is the CEO of Guide12, a geovisual analytics software company, which enables education decision makers to instantly explore and analyze school district data by adding a geographic and visual dimension to their student and community information. Named one of SIIA’s[masked] most innovative education technology products, GuideK12 serves large metro, suburban and rural school districts throughout the United States.  Throughout Chuck’s career he has been involved in creating a variety of programs serving the needs of education including: statewide implementations of programs, professional development offerings, school networking, technology planning and implementation, education technology initiatives at the local, state and national level. He has also been actively involved in national education policy with organizations including ISTE, CoSN, SIIA, SETDA and others.

• Adisack Nhouyvanisvong, PhD:  Adisack is the Co-founder and President of NAIKU, which improves K-12 learning by providing next generation classroom assessment solutions on an open, SaaS based platform.  He is an expert in computer-based and computer-adaptive testing. Most recently he served as the senior director of psychometric quality at Data Recognition Corporation. Over his 12 year career, he has created and ensured the psychometric integrity for both large-scale educational assessments and professional and certification organizations as well as taught at the University of Minnesota and is an adjunct faculty at Metropolitan State University. Adisack has published in peer-reviewed journals and regularly speaks at education conferences. He has a PhD in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Don Smithmier: Don is the CEO and co-founder of GoKart Labs, a Minneapolis-based digital innovation agency and incubator.  Since 2008, Don has helped start 7 new companies that have attracted over $15 million in investment capital.  They include the award-winning peer-to-peer learning platform, Sophia (

Don spent the first 14 years of his career as a pioneer in online education with Capella Education Company where he held executive leadership roles in marketing, technology, and business management. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and his MBA from the University of Minnesota.  Don is an active youth coach, musician, and board member of Hammer Residences, a non-profit organization serving adults with developmental disabilities.

Our Moderator is:

Rajiv Tandon, PhD:  Rajiv is an Adjunct Professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches entrepreneurship.  He is also the founder and former CEO of Adayana (an industry leader in human capital training solutions and consulting services) acquired by ComVest in January 2014, and LearningByte, (a provider of customized training programs using interactive, multimedia computer technology) acquired by Digital Thnk in 2001.  Previously, Rajiv was Director, Corporate Venturing at the University of St. Thomas.  He holds a PhD in Entrepreneurship, as well as an MBA-MIS from the University of Minnesota—Carlson School of Management.  He also holds a B. Tech, Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India.

Join or login to comment.

  • Larry W.

    Another excellent program. Thank you, Steve, for bringing edtech folks together to meet and learn.

    April 17, 2014

  • Mike P.

    This is not going to work for me due to updates I'm working on for Plus, there's the awesome weather-related traffic thing going on.

    April 16, 2014

    • Robert B.

      Mike, I'm sorry you couldn't make it. I was looking forward to seeing you again and hearing about your current work. Next time.

      April 17, 2014

  • Steve W.

    Thanks Leslie. Minnevate!'s community engagement session on April 29 at TIES is definitely an event that every Educelerate Twin Cities member should check out.

    April 17, 2014

  • Steve W.

    Glad to successfully fought the traffic! It was nice to meet you in person. Hope you enjoyed our event.

    April 16, 2014

  • Carla S.

    I'm coming- got a late start and hit bad traffic.

    April 16, 2014

  • Beth P.

    Sorry I cannot attend! Hate to miss it.

    April 16, 2014

  • Jacob H.

    Really sad to have to miss this one....I am sure it will be another great event!

    April 15, 2014

  • Chris B.

    unfortunately I can't attend, looks like a great event!

    April 15, 2014

  • Steve W.

    Hey Educelerants--You may be interested in particpating in this upcoming event called "Minnevate!" on April 29th at TIES Training Center in St. Paul. Details can be found here.

    Minnevate! is an initiative organized by the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) to bridge the space between our visions for the future of Minnesota's schools and the realities of today. "Minnevate!" is a dialogue process to build an action agenda. MASA is convening regional groups to localize the conversation. Minnesotans co-creating innovation for schools, an agenda for our future. MASA invites your participation! Everyone is welcome to hear about the statewide process and participate in a facilitated conversation. See our event flyer for more information at

    1 · April 9, 2014

  • Christopher N.

    Hey Educelerants, thought you might be interested to note 4.0 Schools is looking for startups to apply for their next Launch program. More can be found under the Discussion board:

    March 31, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have grad school on Wednesday nights- what a bummer!

    March 14, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      SKIP IT!

      1 · March 25, 2014

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