Press Release: BVCS (Daily Local News)

Press Release: BVCS (Daily Local News)

Brandywine Valley College Specialists was featured in the Daily Local News this week for the recent launch of their online program which makes college admissions a breeze.   Founded by two experts in the field of admissions, we were approached in the Summer of 2017 to help transform their previously face-to-face consultative approach into a digital experience for increased accessibility.  Fast forward to Summer 2018 and we launched a fully produced platform experience with video and downloadable supplemental materials!

If you have someone in High School who is planning to go to college check out BVCS: https://bvcollegespecialists.com/

Press Release:  https://www.dailylocal.com/business/new–part-video-on-demand-course-is-designed-to/article_6a83c580-f49d-589b-a0d6-f130e420294a.html

6 Things We Learned at #RAIN2015

6 Things We Learned at #RAIN2015

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 24, 2015

 

We ABSOLUTELY loved the#RAIN2015 energy @UCScienceCenter. Chris and I attempted to build a list of 5 things that we learned, but there was too much goodness! So, we added one more to the list.

 

1. We need more selfless outreach across our entire Ecosystem:

 

 

2.  Philly’s competing on a global stage:

 

 

 

3.  People pleasing will get you nowhere:

 

 

4.  Collaboration is not limited startups:

 

 

 

5.  Corporations require some serious flexibility:

 

 

6. Be mindful of the ‘David and Goliath’ heuristic:

 

 

 

If anyone out there is thinking to themselves: “Hey Ben! You put you’re own tweet in that blog you made.” My response is,”I know, I know.. only because no one else tweeted this quote”. See you next year!

 

Chasing Small Ball Counts with Alchemy Learning

Chasing Small Ball Counts with Alchemy Learning

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jun 9, 2015

Henry Blue, Co-Founder of Alchemy Learning

@AlchemyLearning

Henry Blue was restless.

“The cyclical nature of education had started to worry me,” confesses the former teacher. “I didn’t necessarily see a direction to progress in, doing the same thing year in and year out. How do you reconcile that need to impact major change during your day-to-day work?” In need of some wisdom, Henry turned to one of his mentors, who sent him off with a quote that still resonates: “Little by little, small ball counts,” a nod to the game-winning baseball strategy chronicled in the movie Moneyball.

The quote has guided Alchemy Learning’s co-founder along the startup path. 

The Classroom Inspiration

After college, Henry traveled abroad teaching ESL before returning to the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland–his alma mater–to teach. “It was great. I got to coach and teach alongside the people who had taught me.”

During this time, Henry’s buddy and fellow Davidson College grad Win Smith was working nearby in Baltimore, and they started chatting about the software education space. Henry was using more technology tools in the classroom, and together they hatched the idea for a web-based curriculum program that would allow teachers to create and deliver e-lessons for students. 

The First Version

They needed help with development, and turned to outsourcing as a solution. “Outsourcing development is kind of risky, though,” Henry advises. “We had trouble getting work done. Suddenly, we were being assigned the junior folks just cycling through.” In the end, Henry and Win were victorious, getting a minimum viable product out of the process.

They released the free tool for teachers. “Bloggers loved it, the industry loved it. It got some awards. There was a good pace of onboarding new teacher users, which allowed us to raise a little more money to build it out beyond just a free tool.” 

On the Digital Revolution

Henry was encouraged by the technology buzz going on at the time. “We saw iPads trending in schools. The White House was pushing for 95 percent connectivity of schools in a 5-year period.” He pauses. “Well, we’re still waiting for that to happen. It’ll happen…we just thought it would happen faster.” 

The Competition

“We weren’t backed by a foundation or major corporation, so we started worrying about competitors. Unlike other industries, our SaaS numbers didn’t mean anything in the education industry.”

Google Classroom, another free tool, provided an alternative for teachers to manage lessons and grades. Additionally, Khan Academy and Guru offered similar features. At the same time, “We saw some other startups running similar things and folding up shop.”

Henry and Win needed to shift gears. “We looked at our user base on the free version. Users tended to be high energy, tech-adapting teachers. Our assumption is that excitement matters for adoption when you’re talking software. And another assumption is that it’s useful for learning outcomes, but also for creating learning engagement, especially for learners who have trouble with traditional textbook learning.” 

The New Reality

Enter virtual reality. “We found that cultural institutions, museums, nature centers, and the like wanted a tool for their learning and outreach portions.” Henry and Win decided to use virtual reality in K-12 classrooms to connect those institutions.

They got funding for a first pass of the project, where students wear Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets and “float” down the Amazon. Students take photographs and get information on the things they photograph, culminating with a trip over a waterfall. 

“We took this basic prototype to education camps to see if anyone wanted it. And we saw there was a lot of excitement. Now, it’s a matter of proving the use case and seeing that people will actually use it in the classroom.”

It’s an interesting challenge. “How do you build both ends of a network?” Henry asks. “You need both schools and network providers. So we’re thinking through niche angles. This is a tool for more technical development. We’re putting students in situations they wouldn’t get in.”

Henry knows the future won’t wait. “Right now, we have the early mover advantage. We want to do everything for the school so they don’t have to do anything.”

iNov8 Internships Draw to a Close

iNov8 Internships Draw to a Close

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

May 15, 2015

“Since working at Walnut Street Labs, I’ve learned how to use WordPress, become more versed in CSS and HTML and seen how PHP runs on the backend. I’ve also gained much more experience working together with a group to complete tasks which is a nice change of pace from the classroom environment which is largely independent work. This semester I’ve been taking a class in PHP so it was nice to see what I learnt in the classroom directly apply to what I was learning at the lab and gave me a chance to improve in school and at work. Overall I’ve greatly enjoyed my time at the lab and I feel that I am more prepared to work in the Tech Industry because of it.”
Bruce Langlois, WSL Dev Intern

“The opportunity I was given to begin an internship with Walnut St. Labs has changed the way I think and work. Before I began working at WSL I had an interest in technology and innovation in general but I never took the time to learn and do something about it. Working at the Labs has taught me about web creation and design as well as film and photography, few things I had a previous interest in. As I am continuously pushed into working with these I am learning more than I believe I would learn in the classroom or on my own. The main thing I have gained from working at Walnut St. Labs is feeling more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone. The environment and people of WSL has given me the encouragement to do so. I have never had the pleasure to be surrounded by such positive and encouraging people in a work environment.”
Jordan Muir, WSL Marketing Intern

“Working at Walnut St. Labs has been an interesting and transformative experience. The things I have learned from everyone here has been more valuable than I can possibly express. I don’t think I would have the skills I currently do in order to build and make things if I didn’t have the experience I got from here. Placing myself in a real work environment is also an enlightening experience. Meeting people and having a forward thinking mind in the tech industry is something completely new to me. Being able to keep up with the industry has also been an interesting experience. I’ve learned to be more self reliant and dependable to my peers and my friends. So far I have managed many websites for the lab and I have brought my own development skills. Some of my favorite projects have been Rentalist, Qio, and Office Hours. For the most part, much of the work has been adding customizations to WordPress websites, though I am at my best when I work with these three sites because I get to work with the raw code of the websites. With these, I have been able to excel my skills in PHP and Ruby on Rails. I’ve also become overall more experienced with general knowledge on web frameworks and the innovation process. This skills this gives me for a career are very direct. I have bettered myself as a programmer, and as an employee for a company. It has also allowed me to create my own projects. With the resources available and the guidance I’ve received, I am better equipped to take on a project and see it to completion.”
Wilhem Arthur, WSL Dev Intern

“Throughout the past few weeks here at Walnut Street Labs, I have gained a large amount of knowledge that I would not have without the help of all of you. First, I would like to say that all of you have done a terrific job at making me feel comfortable working in this company. All of you have welcomed me from day one with smiles and greetings as soon as I stepped in the door. This is something that I cannot express enough. This internship has been more than incredible, because I did not just show up and go to work everyday. I was given the opportunity to get to know most of you on a personal level that made me feel that you were not just my bosses, but also my friends who cared about my success in your company. Once again, I thank you for this and I know you all will continue to welcome every person who comes to Walnut Street Labs with open arms. As far as my learning experience here, I feel that there are two ways to summarize this. I look at my growth from both a technical standpoint and a non-technical one.”
— James Turner, WSL Marketing Intern

“My time spent Interning at Walnut St Labs has been incredible. I have learned so much and have enjoyed wholeheartedly being a part of the team there. In school, while I have exchanged information, techniques, and knowledge with my peers, designing in school is a competition. Those who I work with at school will be competing with me for jobs in the future. That is what makes being part of a collaborative team so different, and what I was so eager to take part in when applying for the internship.
I have always wanted to be a part of a team and I couldn’t have imagined one better than the one at Walnut St Labs. Everyone was very helpful with any questions I had, and each uniquely contributed to my growth as a designer, resulting in a wealth of knowledge after only a few months. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in this internship program and meet all of the people I met. The knowledge I’ve learned and the experience I gained will be helpful throughout my career as a designer.”
— Carly Sylvester, WSL Design Intern

“Working at Walnut St. Labs was an excellent experience as a prospective Web Developer. Every task at the lab was added value to the company. Developing in the WordPress framework taught me how to edit and create high quality websites. WordPress is a ubiquitous Web Development environment that about 25% websites run on. I knew HTML and CSS prior to my involvement at Walnut St. Labs, although this company sharpened my knowledge. One day I might be adding content, the next day I could be tweaking HTML5 animations on high-end sites. I also learned how to edit the backend of websites with PHP. Without out a doubt, my work at Walnut St. Labs will help launch my future as a Web Developer. I learned how to create and enhance websites that are used in the industry.”
— Dennis Pifer, WSL Dev Intern

“Over the course of my internship at Walnut St. Labs, I worked in new situations and environments that were totally foreign to me. After being assigned as one of the main content producers on one of the company’s blogs, WestChester.Guru, I began to expand my skillset and experience as a writer. I wrote about local news, events around town, and promotional blogs for nearby businesses. Occasionally, I had the opportunity to interview a few primary sources for information. Outside of the blog, I worked within a complex network of communication in the company. It was fascinating how often seemingly unrelated company operations would interact and crossover between one another.”
— Zane Zerman, WSL Marketing Intern

Walnut St. Labs Accepted into AWS Activate Program

Walnut St. Labs Accepted into AWS Activate Program

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

May 11, 2015

Walnut St. Labs has been added to AWS Activate’s Program. AWS Activate works with incubators, accelerators and seed funds around the world, including: 1776, DreamIt Ventures, First Round Capital, Techstars, Tigerlabs and many many others. AWS Activate’s Portfolio Packages are available to startups in accelerators, incubators, and Seed/VC Funds.

Amazon Web Services provides startups with low cost, easy to use infrastructure needed to scale and grow any size business. Some of the world’s hottest startups, including Pinterest and Dropbox, have leveraged the power of AWS to easily get started and quickly scale.

AWS Activate is a program designed to provide startups with the resources needed to get started on AWS. Join some of the fastest-growing startups in the world and build your business using AWS. AWS Activate is free to join, and gives you access to a package of services and benefits. See the Benefits page for more detail.