Takeaways from SXSWedu, Congrats Zaption

It seems like I’ve been on the road forever. Finally getting a chance to look back at the past few weeks, my journey started at SXSWedu.

I admit. I was a naysayer about attending SXSW. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love a good time, but I also scour everywhere I go for opportunities to network with teachers, school district decision-makers and anyone else who believes in the power of digital communication. I just wasn’t convinced that I could find them in Austin.

But I was pleasantly surprised. SXSWedu had lots of heavy-hitting educators, superintendents, deputy superintendents of instruction, CIOs and industry thought leaders. There were also lots of young entrepreneurs full of vision and passion. I’m eager to see how they do and to give them some advice, if they’ll take it.

I was once that young entrepreneur with an idea and no business model. I had the passion and put in tons of sweat equity. I eventually discovered what my customers wanted Gaggle to be when it grew up. Not that Gaggle is a grown up yet. We’re more like a precocious teenager.

SXSWedu had some great sessions, especially around data privacy and security. I also enjoyed hearing about Chesterfield County School District’s Chromebook implementation in the session, “Building a Digital Ecosystem to Empower Learning.”

One of the biggest highlights of my trip was catching up with an old friend, Chris Walsh, CEO of Zaption, which won the 2015 LAUNCHedu competition. Zaption transforms video-based learning with interactive content and tools that engage learners, deepen understanding and track progress.

I’ve known Chris since I was a 12. We attended Bernardo Yorba Middle School in Yorba Linda, CA, Esperanza High School in Anaheim, and then UCLA. We attended schools together for more than a decade and we’ve been friends ever since.

It’s great to see a fellow Matador-Aztec-Bruin go on to greatness. Congrats to Chris and all of our friends at Zaption, and I hope to see all of you next year at SXSWedu.