Resource Spotlight: LearnLaunch

Sep 17, 2017

Resource Spotlight: LearnLaunch

Sep 17, 2017

Meet Ben Bungert – Program & Marketing Manager for LearnLaunch, an accelerator and coworking space dedicated to supporting and growing the edtech sector~

GH: What is LearnLaunch?

LearnLaunch is dedicated to connecting, supporting, and investing in the education technology ecosystem to drive innovation and transform learning. We offer a vibrant community, educational events, a collaborative co-working space, and a selective accelerator program to promote the growth of the edtech sector. LearnLaunch is based in Boston, a world education hub.

GH: How can Boston startups/ entrepreneurs best benefit from what you do?

LearnLaunch was created to convene and support the education community, from entrepreneurs to educators, investors to strategic partners — an epicenter, if you will. So to that end, there are programs and services for each group. For entrepreneurs, there is the accelerator, pitch competitions, classes and events, for educators there are research programs, community building and conduits to technology, and so on and so forth. At the end of the day, if you’re in the education space, or interested in entering it, we either have something to support you on the journey or can act as an open ear to learn how we can.

GH: What are some of the best resources the Boston ecosystem has to offer in your opinion?

I’m not sure if it’s so much a “resource” but something many people point to (and I wholeheartedly agree with) is Boston’s amazing “pay it forward” mentality. Because of this inherent disposition, everything and everyone is a resource. From community organizers to accelerators and in kind service providers to policy advocates — Boston has it all, and it’s all open source.

GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?

The obvious (and jaded answer) is money. A more authentic and honest answer is size. Boston lacks size in numbers.

One of the best things about Boston is that it’s so small, well connected. It’s a place where everyone knows everyone and forging partners, making asks and connecting is very easy. That, however, is as much a disadvantage as it is an advantage. For many growing companies and/or industry thought-leaders, the mentality is that you can “size out” of Boston. While Boston has an abundance of resources, they’re neither deep nor wide. We’re making progress but the reality is that we may not be capable of reaching the size that other cities organically reach. This will force us to adapt and figure out how we message that.

GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?

This is not necessarily advice, more a mentality that I’ve seen over and over again (not just in the tech community). It’s a lack of forethought and emphasis on diversity and inclusion. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in places and with leaders who put the diversity of perspective and opinion first — they build it into the core of the mission.

However, it pains me to see panels, boards and founding teams that seem to not share the same opinion. I find myself battling people weekly on hiring from a diverse talent pool, building a panel with unique perspectives and backgrounds and making sure “the room” is representative of the customer, user or attendee.

The worst piece of “advice” I’ve received was to not make it a priority. Rather, if “it works out, it works out”.  The best piece of “advice” I’ve received was just the opposite.

GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?

Hired to work at LearnLaunch! But seriously, that’s high on the list.

I think part of “finding yourself” is also finding your people. This year has been eye opening in the pursuit of finding myself and also identifying the people I appreciate the most, admire the most and am most similar to. Ultimately, I’m excited by what that all could mean long term.

GH: What does the future hold for the Boston innovation economy?

Well, that all depends on its people… I think if we can address our identity crisis and stop fixating on being SF or NYC and just own being Boston, our future it bright.

At a higher level, Boston is beginning to admit to its flaws (obvious racism, sexism, inferiority complexes, limitations) and people are emerging as champions of those issues. If we can check ourselves, be okay with what we see, and then take the proper steps both individually and as a community, we will begin to see a Boston we didn’t know existed. We have all the pieces AND the drive to do it, we just need to channel them appropriately.

GH: What does the future hold for LearnLaunch?

There will definitely be a component of expansion via partnerships. Education can be defined pretty broadly and as we begin to work with more diverse groups that are both deep in traditional education and tangentially working in education, you’ll begin to see some partnerships created to support those more specialized verticals.

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