Slow Pitch:
An EdTech Design ThinkTank


March 7, 2016 @ SXSWedu
12:30PM – 5:00PM
JW Marriott Salon 3

Summit Activities

SlowPitch Schedule
12:30 – 12:40 Introduction to EdTech startups, mentors, organizers, format, and tech for the day
12:45 – 1:15 EdTech Startup Demos (Museum-style)
1:20 – 1:50 Targeted Mentor Sessions with EdTech startups:
Block Solid with Mr. Ryan Joy, Mr. Marc Wright, and Ms. Lorrie Salome
DiscoverSTEAM with Dr. Janice Trinidad and Dr. Gloria Gonzales Dholakia
Science Delights with Mr. Rudy Garza and Akilah Willery, M.Ed.
VentureLab with Mr. Lincoln Turner and Dr. Bob Metcalfe
Wiki Talki with Dr. Joan Hughes and Mr. Eric Silva
  5 SlowPitch Sessions to all mentors & audience (~25 min each startup)
2:00 – 2:25 Slow Pitch #1: Block Solid
2:30 – 2:55 Slow Pitch #2: DiscoverSTEAM
3:00 – 3:25 Slow Pitch #3: Science Delights
3:30 – 3:55 Slow Pitch #4: VentureLab
4:00 – 4:25 Slow Pitch #5: Wiki Talki
4:25 – 4:45 Closing

Meet the Startups

Block Solid

Block-Solid is a planning web app for upper-elementary and middle schoolers that empowers kids to self-manage the homework process. Traditional planners focus on the due date. Block-Solid changes that focus. Using Block-Solid, students move step by step through the process of planning for and completing their homework: breaking assignments down into manageable “blocks”, scheduling when to work on these blocks, and tracking their own progress as they see their assignments through to completion.


DiscoverSTEAM provides an online, project-based learning platform that lets high school students collaborate on challenges provided and developed by corporations. Corporations provide standards-aligned STEAM challenges and Industry Experts, who serve as mentors and subject matter experts for student projects. Students get hands-on experience working on relevant STEAM projects. With built-in communications, project management and evaluation functionalities, students will develop a unique, project-based skills portfolio that can inform future college majors and internship opportunities.

View Discoversteam’s Website

Science Delights

Science Delights has developed a turnkey, hands on, STEM curriculum for early elementary students. One of the few companies developing specifically for this age group, Science Delights builds on a young child’s natural engagement with STEM concepts. Aligned to state and national standards Science Delights’ supplementary curriculum gives teachers a flexible resource to teach STEM to young students in a safe and purposeful way.

View Science Delight’s Website



VentureLab offers the only suite of TEKS-aligned K-12 Entrepreneurship curriculum and professional development. We partner with schools and non-profit organizations to provide a tailored package of in-school, after-school, and summer enrichment programs. Through project-based learning and engaging web-based activities, the curriculum connects STEAM concepts to real-world problems and brings college-level entrepreneurship to the classroom. The curriculum concludes with a shark-tank style Pitch Day where students present their products.

View Venture Lab’s Website

Wiki Talki

Record, share, and feedback

Wiki Talki is a peer feedback platform for oral communication. The mobile app automatically shares users’ recording to 3 peers who conducted the same task. The comment given to each other will be collected in the resource bank, back pack. WikiTalki can help learners to autonomously engage in learning, be more mindful about their performances, which can eventually lead to self-directed learning.

Organizers and Mentors

Mr. Sean Duffy

Organizer, Co-founder, EdTech Action

Sean Duffy is an educator and edtech leader who is passionate about helping to make meaningful change in education through technology. Sean is the founder of EdTech Austin, co-founder of the education incubator EdTech Action and the lead Organizer for Startup Weekend Education in Austin, TX. Currently, Sean is the Marketing and Community Manager for MakerSquare Austin.

Dr. Joan Hughes

Organizer, Associate Professor of Learning Technologies, The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Joan E. Hughes is an Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research examines how teachers and K-12 students use technologies in-and-outside the classroom for subject area learning, how school leaders support classroom technology integration, and how teacher education programs prepare new teachers to integrate technology. She began her educational technology career as an elementary and middle school computer teacher in Silicon Valley in 1993.

Dr. Bob Metcalfe

Professor of Innovation, University of Texas at Austin

Bob Metcalfe is Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise in The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering. Dr. Metcalfe was an Inter­net pioneer at MIT starting in 1970 and in 1973 received his PhD from Harvard for “Packet Communication.” He invented Ethernet in 1973 and founded 3Com Corpora­tion (now part of HP) in 1979. Dr. Metcalfe has received numerous industry awards and recognition including the ACM Grace Hopper Award in 1980, the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal in 1988, the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1996, the National Medal of Technology in 2005, induction into to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007, and the Fellow Award from the Computer History Museum in 2008. In November 2010 Metcalfe was selected to lead innovation initiatives at The University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering. He began his appointment in January 2011.

Mr. Eric Silva

Undergraduate Student, Computer Science, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Eric Silva is a multidisciplinary studies major at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and is the Website and Social Media Manager for the Brownsville Convention & Visitors Bureau. He has five years experience serving on education committees such as strategic planning committees and educational improvement committees. In addition, Silva has been recognized by EdTech company Blackboard as a Blackboard MVP. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree he hopes to continue his education with a masters in Educational Technology.

Mr. Ryan Joy

Startup Evangelist @ Microsoft

Ryan Joy has been developing for web and desktop user experiences using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript frontend technologies since the late ‘90s. He’s also worked with more than a few backend technologies and frameworks. These days he’s a Startup & Developer Evangelist @ Microsoft promoting those same technologies to others. He’s active in the local Austin web tech communities both as organizer (Refresh Austin and the Austin Web Design Meetup) and as frequent attendee.

As a web developer and consultant, he brings over 13 years of expertise in web technologies, platforms, and trends. He’s been lucky enough to work with some of the top brands in the world and to be able to work alongside some very talented individuals. His understanding of business goals and technology opportunities allow him to bridge these worlds and enable brands to engage|monetize|communicate strategically.

Mr. Marc Wright

12th grade student, Round Rock High School

Marcus Wright is a senior at Round Rock High School, a large district, just north of Austin which serves thousands of students from rural, suburban, and urban settings. Marc participated in the district’s first 1:1 laptop initiative as a sophomore. The initiative included the use of a Dell laptop to be brought back and forth between home and school and a Google Docs for Education account. He also spent three years in the Marine ROTC, and has volunteered yearly as a youth leader and teacher at Bethany United Methodist Church. Marc plans to attend Texas State University in the fall to study business.

Dr. Gloria Gonzales Dholakia

Executive Director at Leander ISD Educational Excellence Foundation

Dr. Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia is the executive director for the Leander ISD Educational Excellence Foundation. Gonzales-Dholakia’s resume includes more than 20 years of experience in the education and nonprofit sectors. As an active volunteer in the LISD community, she has dedicated extensive time and energy to many organizations within LISD. Most notably, she coaches robotics teams in both the First Lego League (FLL) and First Technical Challenge (FTC) divisions and serves on the LISD Council of PTAs. Her passion and commitment for education includes a doctorate degree in the field of Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin. In her current role as executive director, Dr. Gonzales-Dholakia is responsible for the implementation of a comprehensive development program that complements and enhances the educational opportunities provided to all LISD students.

Mr. Lincoln Turner

EdTech Entrepreneur at Wizzimo

Lincoln Turner is the co-founder and CEO of, a program that saves teachers time while helping to improve their students’ reading and spelling skills. A graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College, Lincoln has over 15 years experience as a teacher, trainer, program manager, and educational entrepreneur. Lincoln is passionate about addressing our country’s literacy crisis and enjoys contributing to the EdTech community.

Dr. Janice Trinidad

Veteran Science Teacher & Instructional Coach, Manor New Tech HS and ThinkForward PBL Institute

Dr. Janice Trinidad is a 2007 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned both a Ph.D. in physics and her teaching certification through UTeach, the latter as a Noyce Scholar. That same year, she began teaching at Manor New Technology High School (MNTH), which is a T-STEM academy, an Apple Distinguished School, and a demonstration site for the New Tech Network, a network of schools that uses project-based learning as the primary vehicle for instruction. Since MNTH opened in 2007, she has co-taught and written curriculum for several project-based courses that integrate the physical sciences with mathematics. She currently co-teaches Phylgebrics, a junior-level course that integrates Algebra 2 and Physics, and also manages Team 2789, the MNTH FIRST robotics team. This year, she worked as a PBL trainer for the Texas High School Project, the KSTF Scholars Program and the Think Forward Institute. The Think Forward Institute, housed at MNTHS, is a teacher residency program focused on training teachers to implement project-based learning.

Mr. Rudy Garza

G51 Amplify

Mr. Garza is leveraging his history, expertise and resources to build a global network of Universities, Students, Startups, Industry and Family Offices to speed up the pace of Innovation and Job creation with his work at G51 Amplify. The G51 Venture Scholars Program is currently a national initiative in place at 15 top graduate school programs and growing. From Austin to Raleigh-Durham to Boston and Chicago and west to Palo Alto students are learning and collaborating about promising Startups and helping the Startups find referrals, advice and funding. There are over 200 Venture Scholar alumni working in amazing careers at leading companies across the country and internationally. The intellectual horsepower of the cohorts and academic support in the program coupled with the exposure to raw American startup ingenuity is driving continuous organic growth to national and global locations.

Ms. Lorrie Salome

5th Grade Teacher, Hill Elementary, AISD

Lorrie loves to fertilize creativity in her classroom! She encourages new ideas, almost to a fault. She’s a recent UT graduate with a master’s degree in Learning Technologies and has a true passion for technology as a learning tool. When used effectively, electronic learning can open up the world to students!

Lorrie graduated with a degree in Advertising and worked in the non-profit sector for 8 years. She volunteered at an elementary school across the way and never wanted to leave. She decided to pursue teaching certification through an alternative program while she continued to work full-time.

Lorrie has won the Teacher of the Year and EANESpiration Awards (District award for innovation) where she spearheaded innovation in her classroom using SMART Technology products. Her use of technology to improve students’ learning and support her fellow teachers extends beyond the latest-and-greatest software and hardware. Her nomination read, “Ms. Salome embodies the idea of innovation and I heartily nominate her for this award.”

Akilah Willery, M.Ed.

Program Director of Instructional Technology

Akilah Willery is currently Program Director of Instructional Technology in Aldine ISD in Houston. She received her BA in History and M.Ed. in C&I/Instructional Technology at the University of Houston. She has 18 years experience in the field of education.

A SXSWedu Summit Event

Slow Pitch

Join an interactive thinktank and pitch session where startups, mentors and the audience will dialogue and hone startups’ products so that they will transform learning and penetrate K-12 school markets. Selected edtech startups will provide demos, evidence of real/potential impact, and marketing/monetization plans prior to SXSWedu. At the summit, we’ll cultivate a focused, generative dialogue between the startups, the 10+ educator, research, and business mentors, and the audience in demos, targeted mentoring, and pitch style discussions. Audience participation will be curated throughout with twitter, polls, and open-mic opps. This design thinktank will help emerging edtech advance and innovate.