KiraKira’s Founder Discusses Intel Education Accelerator

You’ve heard about Intel Education Accelerator’s unprecedented ability to boost education technology startups with mentoring and capital. You’re intrigued. You’ve looked into our mentors and are excited about the possibility of working with innovators from Intel, The Walt Disney Co., Scholastic Inc., and other trailblazing organizations. You meet the qualifications as a business committed to K–12 education technology. Your company is inventive, has some initial funding, and created a working beta product or service, and now you’re looking to grow. You’re even focused on adaptive learning or data analytics and you’ve read our application advice from last year’s Intel Education Accelerator cohort. You’re nearly ready to apply for a chance to take your company and product to the next level.

But naturally, you’re a shrewd, informed leader and want some deeper insight into the program. We’re here to help. We chatted with KiraKira founder Suz Somersall, a member of last year’s Intel Education Accelerator cohort, about their program KiraKira3D as a case study of what the program did for her business and the benefits KiraKira gained from the experience.

What is KiraKira3D?

KiraKira is focused on closing the gender gap in STEM education. “KiraKira3D teaches kids — with a focus on girls — about engineering and design-thinking through building products that they love. Things like iPhone cases, skateboards, and fashion,” Somersall explains. “Users can create 3D models and 3D-print their creations, sharing and selling them to friends.” Sounds advanced, but KiraKira3D makes it easy. “We expect most of our new users have zero experience with 3D modeling,” Somersall says.

It’s this innovative mentality that made KiraKira a perfect fit for the Intel Education Accelerator Program. “At KiraKira3D, we realize that if you lead with creativity, then the love for STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — will follow,” Somersall says. “Approaching engineering through the lens of art and design is an amazing tool to engage users in learning.” Which is exactly how KiraKira is appealing to K–12 girls with their #DesignLikeAGirl initiative. “With #DesignLikeAGirl, we want to show the world the diverse range of phenotypes of female designers, engineers, artists, and entrepreneurs. We want young women to show their stories and their creations to help inspire the next generation of female makers.”

Achieving Results With Intel Education Accelerator

“We knew that the resources and mentorship coming from Intel Education and Intel Capital would be invaluable to our growth as an early-stage startup. [Doing Intel Education Accelerator] was one of the best decisions we could have made!” Somersall says.

The benefits that Intel Education and Intel Capital via the Education Accelerator deliver are advice, insight, and connections that benefit companies in many ways. First, mentorship from some of the best advisors any operation could ask for. “David Min, the Vice President of Disney Innovation, was our mentor in the Intel Accelerator,” Somersall relays. “He was incredibly insightful in a range of areas, from fundraising to our marketing plan. We could ask him any question!”

Next up, the Intel Education Accelerator is great for making inroads with important partners that help take startups to the next level. “Since participating in the Accelerator, KiraKira has gone on to secure partnership with Fortune 500 companies,” Somersall says, “including HP, who’ll be distributing our product worldwide.”

KiraKira and the Intel Education Accelerator Advantage

When asked what the greatest benefit of Intel Education Accelerator was, Somersall had a hard time choosing a single answer — which is always the type of takeaway you want from a helpful program. In the end, here’s what she landed on: “I would say the combination of working with amazing founders who were equally mission-driven and passionate about education, as well as working with our Intel mentors and partners — coming from many different areas within Intel, like Intel Capital, Intel Education, and Intel Wearables. Intel also facilitated key partnerships that have been crucial to our success.” This has all primed KiraKira for a big year ahead. “KiraKira is excited to be releasing our first iOS app and opening our first physical location this summer in San Francisco in Ghirardelli Square!” Somersall says. “We are excited to reach our goal of 2 million users in 2017.”

These are the benefits KiraKira found during the Intel Education Accelerator Program. If this sounds like a good fit for your business, applications are now open for the Intel Education Accelerator and are due by April 17, 2017, 12:00 p.m. PDT. The four-month program runs from August 8 to November 29, 2017, and can be a huge asset to your company. Together, we can push K–12 education technology of all sorts forward.