February 18, 2020
As former UNC-Chapel Hill students and Durham-based education technologists, the Warpwire founders decided to stay local and build their business in the community they knew best.
Having worked in other incubator and start-up spaces around Durham, NC, Warpwire is now based out of its own office near downtown on Broad St. The floor to ceiling windows give a clear view of our across-the-street neighbor, Duke University, and we enjoy supporting our local coffee shop across the hall.
We love our primary office, but as Warpwire grows, we saw it as beneficial to invest in a satellite office — one that would allow our team to host events, have creative breakout sessions, and connect with others in our local EdTech community.
Unlike traditional incubator and startup spaces, NextEd Labs at Duke is focused on organizations and companies who work directly on education-focused initiatives. Warpwire was first built in close collaboration between our development team and education technology leaders. That dynamic has only continued as we've grown, so being part of NextEd Labs made great sense.
In October 2019, our CTO, Monte Evans, was invited to speak at the NextEd Labs launch event. In good company, Monte sat on a panel among entrepreneurs in the community to discuss why NextEd Labs is so important for the EdTech industry. A common theme among the panelists was the need to share ideas, resources, and knowledge. This dedication to openness resonated with our team, because it is how Warpwire has and will always operate.
Sitting down with Monte and Andrew, we discussed what it means to be part of an education focused space and the details on why Warpwire chose NextEd Labs as a place to grow.
What value do you think lies in an industry specific space?
ME: Education problems are very specific and very unique. They way I look at it is that education is usually a decade ahead of the commercial enterprise. They had issues in the '90s of "We have all these students and how do we do registration and how do we let them sign in," and things like that, so they developed these systems a decade before commercial institutions decided, "Hey, we need the same thing." So for us, education problems are ones that haven't been solved because they're often times specific and more difficult. It's important that you have a focus group who understands these needs and can take the time and work with the institution to design something that's specific to those use cases.
Warpwire could be anywhere. Why the Triangle?
ME: I think we have a really unique opportunity being part of the Triangle. We have some of the leading institutions in higher education, we have a really good education system, we have brilliant minds and wonderful businesses that do things that other states would be envious of. I think that we haven't tapped into the full potential of combining and creating a space for collaboration with all these people, so that these ideas can be heard and improved.
How did Warpwire get involved with NextEd Labs?
AS: Warpwire was approached by folks at Duke because of our relationship with the university. Our software has been deployed at Duke for five years and I think they saw a perfect fit for a small company that's still in town and one that is engaged in the educational technology scene. We were invited to speak on the launch panel a couple of months ago and I think that was a foray into considering us having a footprint in the space.
What are your hopes for NextEd Labs?
AS: What I hope from an education or non-profit space is that it can be more mission driven, as opposed to profit driven at all costs. We've felt a little bit out of place in other spaces, an outcast of sorts, because we are all about improving education and improving the tools that people use on a day-to-day basis. Yes, of course we want to make money, but that's not our overarching goal. And so finding other entrepreneurs, small companies, non-profits, who have a similar mission will be nice on a lot of levels. Maybe we could collaborate with them, maybe we could share stories about how to navigate certain things, and so I think that's something we look forward to in the space.
A partnership between Duke I&E, Duke Learning Innovation, and Embark, NextEd Labs is helping to serve the Triangle's education entrepreneur and startup community. Follow the links below to learn more about the space and their offerings: