Hasson's website, www.thegiftofeducation.com, functions like an online gift registry for educational savings accounts, known as 529 plans. It works in one of two ways: Investment companies can sign a contract with The Gift of Education to offer the service as a benefit to any customer with a qualified account, or individuals can create their own account profiles.
In either case, the account holder sends a link through which friends and family can make contributions.
Hasson came up with the idea for The Gift of Education after her late friend,
Hasson created a Web page to give everyone some direction -- and thought: "I could use a site like this for my two sons." In 2010, she and husband
The company makes its money by charging a
Hasson said it's entirely possible that some 529 plans will pay the licensing fee: "They spend a lot of time and a lot of money trying to get new money under management. If they had a tool that will make it a lot easier for money to show up in their accounts magically, with really no effort on their parts, then that would be great."
Just call him Mr. Roboto
"Math and computer programming are very abstract concepts," said Ryland, a mechanical engineer who grew up near
Ryland's company, Barobo, calls its tiny automatons Linkbots. It sells them to schools, along with activity mats printed with graph tables. Because many algebra equations are meant to be graphed, the Linkbots essentially demonstrate the math. Eventually, students become so comfortable that they use math to program the Linkbots to do all sorts of crazy things.
One student, nervous about asking a girl to the prom, programmed the Linkbot to pop the question. Another student dressed up Linkbots, creating ninja robots that duked it out. They email videos of their efforts to Ryland and his team at
Davis Roots, a nonprofit business accelerator, is incubating a third class of entrepreneurs.
The goals are to grow the entrepreneurial community in
Over nine months, board members and mentors at Davis Roots make introductions and provide counseling, helping would-be entrepreneurs gain the capital and know-how needed to establish their operations. Rossbach also invites entrepreneurs from around the region to share their insights.
The business accelerator got its start with donations from corporate sponsors, but one of the fledgling startups just might provide a windfall one day.
"We take a small equity stake from each company in the program," Rossbach said. "We will keep that stake until the exit event, whether it's acquisition or an IPO. Five to seven years is the typical timeline for that. If we get a large sum of money, it can be used to fund startups. Our eventual goal is to be able to give seed funding to some startups."
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