Pear Deck, an Iowa City-based educational startup, is one of just 12 companies selected to participate in the “Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day,” set for April 2 at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. This year, each of the selected companies will have five minutes to pitch their product to an audience of investors.
Pear Deck goes into the event with a lot of momentum: At SXSW Festival in Austin last week, the company took home the $150,000 first prize at AOL founder Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest contest. Case was selected as an investor judge for last year’s Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day, and ended up surprising attendees with a $100,000 contribution to each of the 10 startups present.
According to Pear Deck co-founder and Chief Educator Michal Eynon-Lynch, the company plans to use their Rise of the Rest winnings to expand their team so that they will can continue to develop their product and reach more classrooms.
Currently, more than 4,500 schools have used Pear Deck since its launch last year.
Its creators describe Pear Deck as a “slide deck”-style application that teachers can use in their classrooms to get students more actively engaged in learning.
“Normally when you’re lecturing or using a slide presentation you’re just telling information, and students are passively listening. Maybe you as a teacher ask a question and a couple of students at the front of the classroom raise their hands. And it’s always the same students who raise their hands,” Eynon-Lynch said.
“Pear Deck makes it so the presentation can be on every student’s device, and a question can be asked through the program and you get every single student answering right there,” she added. “The answers come up in real-time for the teacher.”
Eynon-Lynch says the next step for Pear Deck will be to broaden its accessibility to educators who may not feel as comfortable with new technology. She wants to demonstrate its user-friendliness, while showing that it has had real, measurable success in the classrooms where it has already been implemented.
“You can use [Pear Deck] to form the path that your lesson will take,” Eynon-Lynch said. “We’re really excited since we’re collecting a lot of ‘formative assessment’ data, because there a lot of possibilities as to what we can do with that information to help transform not only the way teachers teach in class, but across classes, and then the way it can impact a whole school and the way that they plan curriculum.”
“There are a lot of really exciting ways we can go with this,” she added.
At the conclusion of Google for Entrepreneurs Day, judges will select a favorite startup, but regardless of the judges decision, Eynon-Lynch says it’s really just about getting the chance to meet investors and gain wider exposure for Pear Deck.