My Winning Experience at the Education Business Forum

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Steve WardThis week's guest blogger is Steve Ward, CEO and Founder of  Future N Focus Dream Catcher Enterprises. Dream Catcher software was as finalist is the 2017 Education Business Forum Innovation Showcase and won the Most Likely to Succeed category. Read here about Steve's experiences during EBF and their value to him and his company.

I was introduced to SIIA’s Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN) by a friend who is also in the ed tech space. He continually commented on how this would be a good network for me to be a part of. I stayed an unofficial member of SIIA for over a year, regularly using the web site to stay current on topics and information affecting our industry.

Being a newcomer to this industry, I saw an opportunity to take part in a competition for new ed tech products called Innovation Showcase held at ETIN’s Education Business Forum. I saw this as an opportunity to get feedback on my Dream Catcher software by industry peers and potential customers.

I applied and was amazed that I was actually selected as one of eight finalists. This required me to go to Washington D.C. and give a final presentation and demo to a large audience and panel of industry leaders and professionals. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by how much exposure and how many business development opportunities SIIA provided for all of the finalists as well as conference attendees.

By far the most exciting and vindicating moment was when my company was announced winner of the Most Likely to Succeed award. I’ve seen the impact our software can have in the lives of our customers. Now I have validation from peers and potential investors that we are on the right path to becoming a successful business. That is what the plaque means personally to me. 

Even if I hadn’t taken home the winning plaque, I felt like a winner just being there. Throughout the two-day conference, I gained a wealth of knowledge that was immediately applicable to my business. This well-planned, well-organized event had us busy with activities such as a speed dating session formatted business networking, very informative breakout sessions, and industry leader key note addresses.

My experience as a new SIIA member was amazing not just because my company won the competition, but because ETIN made me feel like part of the family in this close-knit network of ed tech professionals. I honestly feel like I could pick up the phone and ask for advice or information and I would get someone willing to help at a moment's notice. Thank you, ETIN, for putting on a wonderful conference and giving my business the boost it needs to succeed.

Steve Ward


Future N Focus Dream Catcher Enterprises


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.