I always find start-up companies interesting. The thrill of innovation and entrepreneurship. The birth of an idea foist upon the market that may or may not yet be ready. I have worked with a fair number of startups over the years, helping them evaluate their business plans or providing feedback on their direction. Some have made it, and made it big. Others, well, let's just say they had ideas whose time had not yet come.
I commented in this blog recently about one startup, Flat World Knowledge. The founders of that company were nice enough to come to Albany to meet with me, and I have to say, I came away impressed. The more I came to understand the company and their aims, the more it helped some of my thinking about what open access and the future of stores and textbook content could be. They are a company I hope to keep in contact with going forward and I am looking forward to their product releases over the next year.
Recently I have had the opportunity to see two other start-ups that are also interesting in their own way. The first is Polar Mobile. They have an interesting technology for taking publisher content and moving it onto mobile devices. They plan to focus on the higher education market and I see some real promise in their technology. I am not convinced that mobile technology is the solution for all kinds of content, but there is certainly some types of content we could (and perhaps should) be delivering via this format. Since a story months ago about how Starbucks and Apple are working together for downloading music through the stores, I have been interested in how we might use similar technologies. Having seen their product demonstrated, this could be a company to work with and explore further some possibilities. It would be very interesting to see them connect with the right partners.
Another company I have met with a couple times now is Intellidemia, which was founded by some RPI alums. Intellidemia hopes to address some of the shortcomings they see in the traditional course management systems by starting from a fresh angle... the syllabus, and a desire for ease of use. They are also heavily focused on integrating calendars that cross boundaries in educational institutions, so that students, faculty, and institutions can manage time and calendars more effectively. Administrative concerns like accreditation activities and other analytics are high on the watch list. With the current players in the course management system market Intellidemia will have a tough row to till... however, they do have some interesting ideas about the technology design. I am curious to watch the company and its development going forward.