Obstacles and Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Education



Join us for the November MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest event on Tuesday, November 13 when industry veteran Frank Catalano will moderate an event on Obstacles and Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Education.

For the uninitiated, the backstory involves a host of converging trends in education. There is the promise of tablet devices and laptops to deliver personalized digital content. There are new Common Core learning standards that intend to make student learning consistent from state to state. There are teachers and administrators trying to balance an intricate ecosystem of student needs and ever evolving technology, and connect K-12 results to higher education and careers.

However this backstory is set in a stark landscape of reduced school budgets and the perception that American education institutions are in trouble. Education reform efforts present conflicting messages to many. Still, startups and traditional companies are creating tools and content which will deliver value in this environment.

Our speakers represent the broad educational technology and digital learning industry spectrum. Dr. Randy Reina is SVP Digital Product Development at McGraw-Hill Education's Center for Digital Innovation, serving over 5 million users. Lindsey Own is a teacher/entrepreneur organizing the Startup Weekend Seattle EDU (a Startup Weekend with an education focus). Jessie Woolley-Wilson is President and CEO of DreamBox Learning, a Seattle adaptive math curriculum company for the K-12 market.

The topics our panel will be discussing include:

  • What are the true opportunities for entrepreneurs in education technology?
  • Will new Common Core learning standards level the national playing field for education companies?
  • Does the rapid encroachment of consumer technology into education impact our students?
  • Is education reform possible without education technology (and vice versa)?
  • What are the key drivers entrepreneurs have to be aware of in both technology and reform?

We would like to invite educators, entrepreneurs, parents and anyone interested in this thought provoking subject to join us for a lively presentation.


Frank CatalanoFrank Catalano, Principal,  is an industry consultant, GeekWire columnist, author and veteran analyst of digital education and consumer technologies. Focusing on marketing and brand strategy as a consultant, he is a former senior vice president at Pearson Education and serves on the Education Division board of the Software and Information Industry Association. He's also a columnist for the tech news site GeekWire, and a regular contributor to both the NPR/KQED education site MindShift and the edtech news site EdSurge. He tweets



Lindsey Own is in her 9th year as a middle school science and health teacher, in a career that has been interspersed with research-based curriculum development and state-level science education reform administration. Her love is in the classroom, supporting her students in understanding themselves, their growth, and the great impact they can have on the world. She has pushed forward technology use since commandeering her first school's decrepit, unloved MacBook cart. Lindsey now sends her students backpacking with digital data collection probes, Skyping with university students as consultants on undergraduate science documentary projects, and creating animated computer games to demonstrate their understanding of the many pathways throughout the human body.

Randall Reina

Randy Reina is Sr. Vice President of Digital Product Development at Center for Digital Innovation, which has built web-based instructional and assessment applications since 2002, supporting over 5 million users.  Prior to McGraw-Hill, Randy worked in a variety of teaching and administrator roles at both public and private institutions, in notable positions such as Director of Technology and Supervisor of Curriculum & Instruction.  Randy holds a BA in Economics from the Unversity of Pennsylvania, a PhD in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.


 Jessie Woolley-Wilson is Chair, President and CEO of , the company that developed the Intelligent Adaptive Learning platform heralded as a "game changer" in the eLearning sector.  Jessie brings nearly two decades of experience in K-12 eLearning and education technology to DreamBox Learning.  Throughout her career in the education industry, Jessie has held severalleadership roles in general management, sales and marketing, operations and business development.  Jessie received her MBA from Harvard Business School and her BA in English from the University of Virginia.  She is a 2007 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute.



For sponsorship and partnership opportunities: Please contact Fortunato Vega at

Event schedule

5:00 - 6:30 pm – Networking / cash bar / dinner buffet

6:30 - 8:00 pm – Panel discussion

8:00 - 8:15 pm – Q&A 




Washington State Convention Center

North Galleria (Room 3A / 3B / Foyer area)

3rd level (same level as the main entrance to the parking garage)

800 Convention Place
Seattle, WA

Click here for directions and parking details.


Please note that our early bird rate has been extended to 5:00 pm on November 10. Online registration will automatically close at 5:00 pm on November 12. Unless the event is already sold out, walk-ins are welcome on event night ($60 at the door).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 1:00am