My EBF Story by Jena Draper, CatchOn (2015 EBF Innovation Incubator Most Likely to Succeed Runner Up)

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When asked to share my experience at EBF as an Innovation Incubator finalist, my response was an unhesitating yes. There was no way I would have passed up sharing with new friends and future finalists why EBF is the best experience for education technology startups, period.


First and foremost, a huge thank you to Karen, Donelle and the many others who were incredibly helpful from preparation to presentation. Overwhelming kindness and support from team ETIN was provided from day one. Fast forward to NYC and the conference. The experience of presenting to a large, esteemed audience was a huge test for any young company, especially a months-old startup like ours. While the style of the pitch was similar to the culmination of any typical accelerator/ incubator, the audience / “judges” were far from your typical faces in a crowd. When you’re voted to win one of the coveted awards from those folks, it’s as humbling as it is motivating.


But what truly sets EBF apart from any other startup experience is the learning. The roundtables and panels are incredible ways to get to know other folks and share best practices. The One-to-One Business Connections meetings were great ways to discuss synergies for potential business opportunities. But, by far, my most valuable experiences at EBF were the personal investor and potential partner meetings to which EBF opened the doors. A few specific folks I met with challenged me to think about our scalability and offered strategies that will improve our business now and in the future. Their invaluable coaching has led us to new developments that will shape a scalable business early and give us an edge.


EBF is the best experience for education technology startups because every single aspect challenges and supports startups to think about and plan their business beyond where they are at today. I think that, in the end, will make all the difference. 

Donelle Donelle Blubaugh is the Education Programs Manager at the Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN) of SIIA. Contact Donelle for information about ETIN’s Vision K-20 survey, U.S. K-12 Market survey, Innovation Showcase program or Diversity Initiative.
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