This is the first in a series of articles that New Jersey Tech Weekly is publishing on the tech and cleantech companies supported by the New Jersey SBIR/STTR Direct Financial Assistance Program, administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology.
The program aims to enhance the innovation economy in New Jersey through financial support to local small businesses seeking to or participating in the federal SBIR/STTR program.
The first startup in the series is MindPrint Learning, a Princeton-based edtech company built on intellectual property (IP) from the University of Pennsylvania. The company’s cofounder and CEO is Nancy Weinstein, who answered the questions below.
What year was the company founded?
Technically our founding year was in 2013, but we launched in 2015.
New Jersey executive team:
Nancy Weinstein, cofounder and CEO
Eric Weinstein, cofounder
Mary-Vicki Algeri, director of learning & customer success
Susan Beshel, learning specialist
Employees in New Jersey and elsewhere:
We’re small and we like it that way. We have eight employees. We have our tech team, which is out in the Minneapolis area. Our education team — myself and our teacher leaders — are all based in New Jersey. And we have a data scientist who came over to us from ACT, in the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. She’s in Pennsylvania. And then we have our head of tutoring in New York.
Overview of MindPrint Learning:
We have a learning assessment platform. Basically, we can, in an hour, really understand how a student learns. With that, we can provide teachers with the tools they need to differentiate instruction in a way that’s effective and efficient, and it’s better for the teacher and better for the student. The data is used to say, “We all have strengths, we all have needs. We’re going to play to your strengths.” And then, when something is hard, the teacher knows how to support you and how to present the material in a different way.
We are parents who needed to get an assessment for our oldest daughter, who was in the third grade. The results showed no real deficits, although we knew there was something wrong. After that assessment, we looked for ways the process could be improved, targeted, and more beneficial and valuable, and began searching for answers.
MindPrint Learning licenses a cognitive assessment from the University of Pennsylvania’s Brain Behavior Lab. It’s the same assessment that NASA uses. You only need to take it once every three years. We are endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers.
We address students starting at age 8 through college. While MindPrint Learning does serve local and New Jersey-based needs, we are also virtual, which enables us to serve clients globally.
According to a recent case study at Anacostia High School, the solution is effective. Anacostia High School is in a very low SES [socioeconomic status] neighborhood in Washington, D.C. We’ve had tremendous success with them. MindPrint Learning was introduced to the school district with an eight-week math [curriculum], providing students and teachers with data essential to teaching and learning in person and virtually. The faculty’s positive feedback led to Anacostia adopting MindPrint Learning for the current school year.
Funding received, including the SBIR/STTR Direct Financial Assistance Program grant, and what it’s being used for:
We are using the money for research and, also, we’re developing a social and emotional questionnaire so that we can triangulate achievement data, social-emotional data, and our cognitive data to get a true picture of every student,” said Weinstein. “We’re doing more work around self-awareness, self-management and self-advocacy, and bringing that curriculum into schools.”
MindPrint Learning has twice been the recipient of National Science Foundation grants, the first in 2020, and then the second in December 2021. The second is funding our efficacy research in demonstrating improvement in math outcomes.
We also have an outside investment from a group of angel investors that are supporting the company, but I have to give credit where credit is due. My husband and I — and, really, my husband — have self-funded the company. He’s been behind me from the start, and enabled this to happen, because it’s not easy to start an edtech company, especially if you didn’t come from the education sector.
What’s next for the company?
We’re getting a lot of interest internationally because, quite frankly, the international market is ahead of the U.S. market in cognitive assessment. So, while most of our customers are in the U.S., assessments are used more broadly outside of the U.S. than in the U.S. This is our opportunity for growth. That said, I’m based here [in Princeton], and I’d like to help the people in the communities around me most and foremost if I can.
MindPrint Learning has also cosponsored research with the Educational Testing Service [ETS], which has used MindPrint Learning in their research to understand different performances on math tests. And, so, we continue to look for opportunities to collaborate with them.
With this company, we change students’ lives every day, where we capture children with stealth dyslexia, really bright learners that nobody ever caught, that the system just missed. A lot of tutors use our service, and so they’ll capture students with ADHD that no one caught all this time. It helps a lot of people, and it transforms childrens’ lives sometimes. I’ll do that every day of the week if I can.