For bringing the startup model to schools.
Looking at schools for his young children, Max Ventilla was dismayed: The best of them touted single-digit acceptance rates. But in the tech world, great products are all-inclusive. How he tackled the issue:
Early in 2013, Ventilla quit his job as an engineering exec at Google, raised $5 million in seed capital, and dove into learning about education. He developed two goals: to grow a network of excellent elementary schools that hearken back to the single-room schoolhouses of long ago, and to use the schools as labs to learn, iterate, and improve on the model.
AltSchool launched its first one-room school in San Francisco last September and now has 20 students in grades K–5. Teachers work with a "playlist" of activities that can be mixed and matched based on their students' needs.
Armed with $28 million in venture-capital funding, AltSchool is now building a network of schools in the Bay Area and around the country. "You want to avoid thinking you know more than you do," says Ventilla. "But there is a science to education. The ideal approach is not for every teacher to do just whatever comes naturally to them. There should be a rigorous analytical approach."