Literator Wins Top Startup Prize

Literator Wins Top Startup Prize

July 31st, 2015  |  Published in Business

By Amy Pholphiboun

An Oakland elementary school teacher wins the top award for her literacy app concept, named ‘Literator’, at Startup Weekend EDU in San Francisco (SWEDU).

Michelle Ching, who is half Lao and half Chinese, is an elementary school teacher in Oakland, California with Teach for America. Michelle says she teaches in a location of high-crime and poverty, where literacy scores below other districts, in that same area. She says when she first heard of the conference through a friend, she started to brainstorm on how an app could change the way educators gather and analyze information and bring real-time actionable data to help increase literacy performance, especially to underperforming students.

“I would see the types of data my friends were using to find dates or develop their apps and I kept thinking, if we gave teachers even 1/10th of this information, it’d be a game changer.” Michelle says.

SWEDU is an annual conference to help engage the community of educators worldwide and provide innovative ways to give tools to make teaching in the classroom more efficient and accessible for students and teachers. SWEDU is in its 9th year, where 45 participants spent a weekend, in February, developing their idea.

Applicants organized into small teams, which consists of engineers, a designer and a project manager to setup a one minute pitch of their idea. The final four judges comprised of members from Altschool, Impact Strategy Advisors, Oakland Unified School District, and Google for EDU, which all gathered with hundreds of other spectators to listen in on these new ideas.

Michelle is working to further develop the App and is looking for additional investors. She hopes to have a beta product in the next six months. Her story is featured in the Forbes article: How Unconventional Experiential Learning is Reshaping Higher Education.

You can follow Michelle Ching via Twitter @literatorapp