Founder’s Feature: Andrew Hill
How LiftEd helps special ed students
Like many entrepreneurs, Andrew Hill’s idea for LiftEd started with a problem—how could he help more special education professionals measure and improve the performance of their students? After spending a week with his sister, who at the time was a teacher and behavior analyst, in an elementary school for students with severe autism, he got his answer.
“The [special education professionals] are all walking around with clipboards, timers and clickers hanging from their waist, and at the end of the day hand-graphing how the student did and the skills to figure out what kind of learning trend their on, and I’m like this doesn’t make sense, why hasn’t anyone done anything about this?” Hill recounts.
With the seed planted, the former technology consultant got to work transforming an archaic system into a highly functional digital experience that would enable individualized programs to be created using the analytics from real-time student performance. The result was LiftEd, an app that enables special education teachers to measure individualized student performance, analyze learning trends in real-time and share progress on demand with districts and parents. The digital platform helps educators save time on tracking and analysis, provides real-time insight into learning trends and fosters transparency between parents and teachers.
To get started, Hill’s first step was to conduct research to determine if there was a market for his product. He interviewed 130 professionals across the country, all of which confirmed that this was a problem in dire need of a solution. At the time Hill was in business school so he tapped into his resources to find the right engineer to create the prototype, which gave him leverage when pitching in front of venture capitalists.
“I was building relationships and building rapport because I already had a prototype. My sister was consulting at the time in four districts out in New Jersey, so we were able to leverage her relationships to get a couple of school districts to actually pay for an initial beta of our product, so we had two paying customers saying this was something they enjoy; we had some level of traction,” Hill says.
Being a member of AT&T’s Aspire Accelerator program has also helped Hill perfect his pitch and has allowed him to focus on the possibilities of the future of tech in education. The AT&T Aspire Accelerator helps ed-tech start-ups build communities and resources to grow and make an impact.
“They’re now introducing virtual reality into the classroom, and we can use that to serve the needs of a lot of different students and really personalize it so that ultimately those things enable more personalization for education, accessibility, and the ability to serve diverse learners.”
4 Lessons Learned from Aspire Accelerator
Four tips from LiftEd’s Founder Andrew Hill
- Be keenly aware of your weaknesses and really own them.
- Be clear on what your goals are and how you measure those goals up against monthly check-ins.
- Know [and research] your investor.
- At the early stage you are really selling yourself, a story and your vision.
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