B.E.T.A. Challenge Finalists Innovating in Education Technology

A young student with headphones works on a laptop

Mauricio Nogueira Silverio ’24 always dreamed about pursuing his education at a top college in the United States. It’s a dream he also wanted to share and help others realize. So, at 16, he founded a startup company to help other young students in Brazil successfully access and navigate the college admissions process.

As a low-income Brazilian student, Nogueira Silverio is living his dream as a Global Scholar at Babson College, where he is advancing his venture to make college a reality for others.

Nogueira Silverio now is competing in the finals of the 2022 B.E.T.A. Challenge, in which nine finalists—three each in the alumni, graduate, and undergraduate tracks—will be vying for more than $275,000 in cash and prizes. The finals will be held Thursday, April 14, at Olin Hall.

“I could not be more proud and excited for this moment,” Nogueira Silverio said of competing in the B.E.T.A. Challenge finals.

Register today to attend the 2022 B.E.T.A. Challenge Finale.

With his business, iDuk, Nogueira Silverio is just one of the finalists innovating in education technology. One of the alumni finalists is Alexander Deeb ’14, co-founder of ClassHook, which curates educational video clips for use in the classroom to better engage students. We caught up with Nogueira Silverio and Deeb to get their insights on the edtech space and their ventures.

How important is educational technology in the future of learning, especially given what we have seen during the pandemic? And, how does your venture help shape that future?

Alexander Deeb ’14: “The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in classrooms, and while there may have been initial hesitation, schools and districts have seen validation that technology can support student goals at scale. Education technology is never intended to replace teacher instruction, but it can be leveraged for more seamless lesson planning, gaining deeper understanding of student gaps, and personalizing experiences for students. ClassHook shapes this future by making it easy for teachers to effectively use highly engaging media to teach students key real-world skills, such as critical thinking and media literacy. ClassHook powers engaging classroom experiences across tens of thousands of classrooms around the country, helping students find relevance in their learning.”

Mauricio Nogueira Silverio ’24
Mauricio Nogueira Silverio ’24, a Global Scholar from Brazil, is a B.E.T.A. Challenge finalist with his education company, iDuk.

Mauricio Nogueira Silverio ’24: “The pandemic was a catalyst for innovation in the educational field. Schools, teachers, and students had to adapt to the new world of online education. Learning via online courses and videoconference meetings became a part of our daily lives. With iDuk, it wasn’t any different. We saw an opportunity to use social media as an empowerment tool for the young low-income Brazilians who dreamed about going to college in the U.S. but lost faith and motivation in their studies. By offering an accessible and affordable platform, plus weekly live activities and a group chat where students could interact with each other, we managed to keep students engaged and focused on their end goal of coming to America, despite everything that was going on around in the world.”

Why is continued innovation in education so critical?

Deeb: “Innovation in education is critical because this generation of students are the ones who will develop solutions to current and not-yet anticipated problems in our communities. In order for this to happen, students need to be equipped with the foundational skills and subject matter expertise. However, before we get there, we need to spark their curiosity and show how their classroom learning works in tandem with what they hope to pursue after school. Students today prefer short-form video and are more vocal on understanding the applicability of their learning to real life. Without addressing these needs, students will become disengaged and not gain the skills and knowledge necessary to graduate and stay persistent in their personal and professional goals.”

Nogueira Silverio: “If you look at different industries such as telecommunications, transportation, energy, and so many others, all of them have been revolutionized by technology. However, when you look at an average classroom, not only in Brazil but all over the world, you will notice that things haven’t changed too much in the last 30 years. That is why finding ways to disrupt different parts of the educational system is crucial to the formation of the next generation of critical thinkers. That is what we have been doing with iDuk: showing Brazilian students that they do not have to limit their potential and that it is, in fact, possible to step outside of their comfort zone and look for educational opportunities in the United States.”

“Innovation in education is critical because this generation of students are the ones who will develop solutions to current and not-yet anticipated problems in our communities.”
Alexander Deeb ’14, co-founder of ClassHook

What’s next for your business after the B.E.T.A. Challenge?

Deeb: “We will be applying to other pitch competitions and grants to get the funds to help us achieve more traction in our go-to-market sales and marketing strategy. We are also looking to scale our work in two main ways: 1. Technological innovation from a proposal with the National Science Foundation, and 2. Strategic partnerships with other edtech platforms and consortiums.”

Nogueira Silverio: “iDuk is ready to take off. We are a thriving, growing venture that has already helped more than 600 low-income students in Brazil. However, we could scale our impact to reach 6,000 in the next six months. In fact, a Global Scholar for Babson’s Class of 2026 is one of our students. The business was launched in Brazil but can be expanded to other countries in Latin America as the need is so great. I’m excited to take this revolution in the college admissions counseling market to the next level.”

Posted in Community, Entrepreneurial Leadership

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