Nadja Atwal – www.nadjaatwal.net
There are business influencers and then there are those who guide the business Influencers.
HolonIQ is a powerhouse on that front with global reach and impact.
Supplying most valuable data to market leaders and up comers, they currently claim the title of “the world’s leading platform for market intelligence” that is “powering decisions that matter in climate , education and health” as the company officially states. Hence having Google Cloud (among other market leaders) as a very visible partner.
So when I was invited to their New York Global Impact Summit, I gladly attended to feed my curiosity and further fuel my knowledge.
Especially since that week was highlighting ed tech. Why does ed tech matter so much right now? Because it is dominating the news that we are drowning in terrifying numbers about how much our children have fallen behind since the Covid-19 pandemic hit… especially on the math and reading front. Then take the growing shortage of teachers (that is expected to further escalate the already bleak situation) into account.
We are, in essence, in the middle of a pandemic of iliteracy and overall academic decline, with kids performing below grade level. That puts children in the scenario of a tennis match where the opponent already won 2 sets and has a match point. What are the chances to still win the game?
Now add you’re not playing on your home turf, plus are feeling under the weather and you get a realistic picture of where our children are in school right now. As a mother of two young school boys, I care deeply about our current educational crises. I’m muting repetitive, lamenting narratives at this point and only care for news that lay out fast solutions.
When I called the department of education in New York ( in charge of the largest school system in the US) to inquire how they handle installing new (potentially game changing ) ed tech into the classrooms in need, my head and spirit both sank when I was told that essentially any new brand has to register as a vendor and then be reviewed (which takes time ) and the brand should try to hit up schools in order onboard someone to test their product.
In my mind movie I saw the calendar day pages turning by the dozens and hundreds…many months would go by while children and parents are in desperate need of game-changing solutions RIGHT NOW.
When I sat down with the Co-CEO of HolonIQ Maria Spies – who has a background in education – I felt very much in good hands and voiced my concerns about the current state of school performances. “Now the good news is the problem-solving technologies are there,” said Spies, “ the challenge is to get it through the existing systems and structures in a timely manner.”
I nodded in support as my head sank…again…, when Spies injected a dose of hope: she told me that there were a few promising places that had already gotten it right . She pointed to Japan for launching a department that reviews new, problem-solving ed tech with the ability to quickly inject it into their school system.
I moved from Germany to the US largely because it was the country with a pioneer-style mind… where bright ideas were all that mattered to get into the door of the guy who could and would write the check. It surprises me that when it comes to swiftly implementing innovative technology into our classrooms, we are finding stronger pioneers elsewhere.
And at that moment, I discovered the value of a summit like this one . Innovative, problem-solving start ups meet investors and policy makers to potentially create groundbreaking changes for the benefit of everyone.
At the comfortable bar inside the VIP room, I met one of the speakers of the summit. At first glance (sans glasses), I judged his name tag wrong and said “Nice to be named after a country!” My humorous mistake lead to a serious conversation with Fernando Valenzuela.
His company, Ed Latam Alliance, has the largest network of ed tech start ups in Latin America. Noticing his cheerful mood I asked: “ So this event is working out well for you, it seems?”
He nodded and then proudly announced that his company even partnered up with HolonIQ for their next summit in Mexico. It was a busy but friendly place at the Glasshouse on the west side of the heart of Manhattan…without the typical New Yorker “time is money” mentality.
Some brands felt the momentum they had going for them in real time and capitalized on it, like Kyle Wallgren who is building his brand armed with an ideology that puts the desire to solve a global problem first – which led his business to a high demand start up.
His innovative reading app, Edsoma , had just landed NBA superstar (Dr.) Shaquille O’ Neal as a teammate – as the website vividly displays. Naturally, Wallgren encountered investors eager to give him and his team, their business cards. “We will return and are set to attend in other cities as well” was his final take on this summit and off he went to listen to what Trish Sparks had to say in Room D.
Sparks is the CEO of Clever, an ed tech software that makes it possible for K-12 students to access digital content in the classroom. It helps schools choose and implement ebook platforms and teachers can better customize their students’ educational experience with this technology (my sons’ school relies on it as well).
Before and after her time on stage several ed tech reps had chats with Sparks about potential collaboration prospects a la “ stronger together “.
India’s BYJU’S, the world’s highest valued edtech company (early backed by Mark Zuckerberg) had recently named Krishna Vedati, former CEO of Byju’s owned Tynker, as President of Global Growth and Strategic and he joined the event as a speaker. I told him about my personal experience with his brand. “ We need this kind of parent feedback .” , he said and eagerly introduced me to his colleague.
Although focused on ed tech, I occasionally got side tracked by innovators from other industries – like Manuel Schoenfeld, a former project manager at McKinsey & Company who founded PowerX 2019, one of the world’s most comprehensive home energy and water saving solutions.
Works plug-and-play with existing wiring and piping, resulting in less money spent and less carbon emissions released into our atmosphere. Sounds good to me. And talking about ‘good timing’, with the looming energy crises in Europe this winter, Schoenfeld had nothing but great demand to report to me and enjoyed the tremendous interest in his company at the summit.
Generally I enjoyed the sensible mix of speakers where veteran market leaders and exciting newcomers gave the audience something for everyone at this vivid fall event.
The Business Influencer will continue to selectively cover global business summits, focused on the value they bring to participants, their industries and ultimately our readers.