Imagine K-12 is a Y Combinator for education

Ronny Kerr · March 17, 2011 · Short URL:

New Silicon Valley-based incubator founded by three entrepreneurs wanting to change education space

Launching Thursday is a brand new incubator called Imagine K-12, which will provide seed funding and mentoring to startups looking to change the education space.

Imagine K-12 has no qualms about copying the successful model made popular by Y Combinator:

Like YC we are dedicated to helping high-tech startup companies achieve superstardom via a small infusion of cash, lots of mentoring, and an ecosystem / network intended to increase their chance of success

Weirdly enough, the Imagine K-12 site feels eerily similar to YC’s site, especially the FAQ page. Some of the questions and answers appear to be lifted nearly verbatim from YC’s FAQ page, like “We've been working on our startup for a while. Is Imagine K12 appropriate for us?” and “We've already raised some funding. Can we still apply?” Even more absurd: the link on the FAQ page to the application actually goes to the Y Combinator application page.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

No one’s complaining, of course; we all love startups. The more the merrier. Y Combinator is particularly famous for having funded a number of well-known startups, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Posterous, Scribd and Songkick.

Imagine K-12 is different from Y Combinator in that it only wants to train entrepreneurs building infrastructure for charter schools and public schools.

Entrepreneurs interested in applying can do so here. Deadline for the next cycle is May 1, though Imagine K-12 plans to run two cycles yearly. Selected companies receive between $15,000 and $20,000 depending on the team size, and Imagine K-12 gets a stake that will usually float around six percent. 

The new incubator was founded by three experienced Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Tim Brady, Alan Louie and Geoff Ralston. Between 2005 and 2009, Brady served as CEO of QuestBridge, a nonprofit organization that provides low-income students with the opportunity of attending more prestigious (and often more expensive) universities. Louie previously worked at Google handling strategic deal development and negotiation. And Ralston, an angel investor, most recently served as CEO of LaLa, a music streaming service acquired by Apple in late 2009.

As the startup space continues to experience an ongoing boom, incubators have been on the rise. At least five are hosting programs in New York this summer. I guess more startups beget more startups.

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