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The human-focused startups of the hellfire

Disasters may not always be man-made, but they are always responded to by humans. There’s a whole panoply of skills and professions required today to respond to even the tiniest emergency, and that doesn’t even include the needs during pre-disaster planning and post-disaster recovery. It’s not a very remunerative industry for most and the mental health effects from stress can linger for decades, but the mission at the core of this work — to help people in the time of their greatest need — is what continues to attract many to partake in this never-ending battle anyway.
In the …

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Extra Crunch roundup: How Duolingo became an edtech leader

The pandemic has just pushed edtech mainstream, but language-learning startup Duolingo had already spent the past decade figuring out how to build a successful edtech app.
In our latest installment of the EC-1 series, Natasha Mascarenhas goes deep with the company to understand how it found product-market fit, then figured out how to grow like a consumer tech startup and monetize like a SaaS startup. After a record 2020, the Pittsburgh-based company also opened up about its plans for the future, including a focus on speaking a new language (in addition to listening, reading and writing).
Here’s more from Natasha …

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The Duolingo EC-1

Education may well be the most important activity we conduct as a society — and it may also be the hardest space to build a startup in. Selling to school districts and universities is notoriously difficult, but enticing consumers is even harder. Learning takes focus, patience, tenacity and resources, and most consumers would prefer to watch some lip-sync videos on TikTok than stare at math equations (not to mention that such entertainment is free). Engagement and education feel aggressively at odds, which limits the way that startups can scale and succeed.
Yet, the revulsion VCs have traditionally had for the space …

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Language learning startup Toucan raises $4.5M

Toucan, a startup that helps users learn a new language while they browse the web, is announcing that it has raised an additional $4.5 million in seed funding.
As I wrote last fall, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup has built a Chrome extension that scans the text of whatever website you’re reading and translates select words into whichever language you’re trying to learn. That means you’re expanding your vocabulary without having to make time to study or otherwise change your behavior.
Toucan currently supports seven languages — Spanish, Korean, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Japanese. Co-founder and CEO …

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What the MasterClass effect means for edtech

MasterClass, which sells a subscription to celebrity-taught classes, sits on the cusp of entertainment and education. It offers virtual, yet aspirational learning: an online tennis class with Serena Williams, a cooking session with Gordon Ramsay. While there’s the off chance that an instructor might actually talk to you — it has happened before — the platform mostly just offers paywalled documentary-style content.
The vision has received attention. MasterClass is raising funding that would value it at $2.5 billion, as scooped by Axios and confirmed independently by a source to TechCrunch. But while MasterClass has found a sweet spot, can the success be …

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Since colleges are failing to prepare students for tech jobs, it’s time to bring back apprenticeships

Sophie Ruddock
Contributor

Sophie Ruddock is VP, GM North America at Multiverse, a tech startup focused on high-quality education and training through professional apprenticeships.

Ryan Craig
Contributor

Ryan Craig is managing director of Achieve Partners, an investment firm focused at the intersection of education and employment, and author of “A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College.”

More posts by this contributor

The new marketplaces connecting school and work
Last-mile training and the future of work in an expanding gig economy

You can always tell a system is broken when you change the inputs and the outcomes don’t improve. …

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Proctorio sued for using DMCA to take down a student’s critical tweets

A university student is suing exam proctoring software maker Proctorio to “quash a campaign of harassment” against critics of the company, including an accusation that the company misused copyright laws to remove his tweets that were critical of the software.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the lawsuit this week on behalf of Miami University student Erik Johnson, who also does security research on the side, accused Proctorio of having “exploited the DMCA to undermine Johnson’s commentary.”
Twitter hid three of Johnson’s tweets after Proctorio filed a copyright takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, …

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Ornikar raises $120M as its driving school marketplace goes up a gear with car insurance

A French startup that set out to bring a new approach to driver education and road safety, and then used that foothold to expand into the related area of car insurance, is today announcing a big round of funding to continue building its service across Europe.
Ornikar, which prepares people for driving tests by providing online drivers education courses, lets those users organize in-person lessons with driving instructors, provides a booking system for taking their written and practical examinations, and finally provides them with competitive rates for getting car insurance as new drivers, has raised €100 million ($120 million).
The company intends …

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Indonesian edtech CoLearn gets $10M Series A led by Alpha Wave Incubation and GSV Ventures

A Zoom screenshot with CoLearn’s founding team: Marc Irawan, Abhay Saboo and Sandeep Devaram
Indonesian startup CoLearn started as a chain of physical tutoring centers and was in the process of shifting to a hybrid offline-online model when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The team sensed that remote learning would permanently change how students want to be tutored and decided to focus completely on its app, which launched in August 2020. CoLearn has since been downloaded more than 3.5 million times and has about one million active users, mostly students in grades 7 to 12.
The company announced today it has raised $10 million in …

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Seizing opportunities: How can Financial Services Institutions Innovate in the Age of Quantum Computing? | Dimitrios Salampasis

Seizing opportunities:
How can Financial Services Institutions
Innovate in the Age of Quantum Computing?

Dr. Dimitrios Salampasis
Director, Master of FinTech
Swinburne University of Technology

Αn educator, writer, academic researcher and globally recognized emerging leader in financial technologies innovation with an unconventional background. Dr Dimitrios Salampasis serves as the Director, Master of Financial Technologies and Lecturer of FinTech Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the AACSB Internationally-Accredited Swinburne Business School, Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

Dimitrios is a Visiting Professor of FinTech at the University of Québec at Rimouski, Canada, a Blockchain and FinTech Fellow at the Singapore University of Social Sciences and Visiting Faculty at the School of Management Fribourg, Switzerland.

Dimitrios is an MAICD (Australian Institute of Company Directors) and a FINSIA (Financial Services Institute of Australasia) Senior Associate and Mentor.

Prior joining academia, Dimitrios worked in the management consulting industries being involved in global advisory and consulting activities on emerging market investing assisting companies in developing long-term strategic focus and sustainable market business strategies.

Dimitrios publishes in international peer-reviewed academic journals and books and his work is presented in major international conferences and invited keynote speeches and lectures around the world. Dimitrios’ research interests revolve around the organizational, human, technological and societal sides of innovation and open innovation in financial services and FinTech innovation.

His areas of specialist expertise, research, teaching, industry engagement and advisory work revolve around the emergence and development of FinTech-enabled business models, Blockchain-based business models and sustainable development, quantum computing in financial services, digital transformation in banking and FinTech education, together with the relevant global FinTech-related regulatory and policy interventions.



Swinburne University of Technology is a world-class university creating social and economic impacts through science, technology and innovation. Swinburne has an international reputation for quality research that connects science and technology with business and the community. Swinburne’s standing in prestigious world academic ranking lists reflects its commitment to high-quality teaching, research and graduate outcomes.

Swinburne researchers have a reputation for high-quality research with particular strengths in astronomy, physics, engineering, materials science, computer science and information technology, design and innovation, health sciences, neurosciences and mental health. Underpinned by leading digital technology platforms, our researchers are collaborating with industry through embedded partnerships to drive innovation and create impact.