The Silicon Review
We started this company to make a difference in education and provide students and teachers with a way to create, share and showcase their smarts: Eric Goldreyer
Technology has impacted almost every aspect of life today, and education is no exception. Or is it? In some ways, education seems much the same as it has been for many years. A 14th-century illustration by Laurentius de Voltolina depicts a university lecture in medieval Italy. The scene is easily recognizable because of its parallels to the modern day. The teacher lectures from a podium at the front of the room while the students sit in rows and listen. Some of the students have books open in front of them and appear to be following along. A few look bored. Some are talking to their neighbors. One appears to be sleeping. Classrooms today do not look much different, though you might find modern students looking at their laptops, tablets, or smart phones instead of books. A cynic would say that technology has done nothing to change education.
In light of the above-mentioned concern, we are thrilled to present bulb Digital Portfolios – dedicated to providing multimedia digital portfolios for the education market. The company provides a platform for students and educators to create, share, and showcase their skills, for life.
bulb was established in 2013 and is headquartered in Denver, Colorado.
Eric Goldreyer, bulb Digital Portfolios CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
bulb Digital Portfolios was established in Colorado in 2013 by teachers and parents looking to advance education in the classroom. Today, we have bulb users in over 100 countries. Locally, we are operational in Colorado, Florida, Texas and the DC-area, with an international team out of the UK.
We feel we are smart by resisting the temptation of developing and marketing the trend in tech of ‘easy fix’ solutions. We have always aimed to be a disruptor in this flooded market by focusing on solving very complex education challenges. The quick solutions don’t often acknowledge the depth or expansiveness of the learning process and therefore don’t stand the test of time. Education needs products designed by educators – bulb is made up of several such talented teachers who know technology and know how people use it.
How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.
bulbSchool, our pilot project, was a major success. Having entered the market only a couple of years ago, bulb has already been adopted by top leaders in the field of education technology. The Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas sought a district-wide solution that could showcase the full-spectrum of their students’ creative and academic work. Eanes ISD served as a pilot for bulbSchool. They wanted a tool that was tied to the student so that when the student graduated or changed schools their work was never left behind. Eanes ISD found the perfect solution in bulb’s interactive platform, designed to work with student laptops, tablets and smartphones. bulb offered students and teachers a way to efficiently create a portfolio of one’s academic and professional work that will grow with them for a lifetime. Student work that had historically gathered dust in filing cabinets or been buried in piles of three-ring-binders was now providing real education opportunity in the classroom and beyond.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
We have always been focused on education and we quickly learned how challenging the education market can be. From long budget and sales cycles, to tracking down RFPs and managing the sheer number of decision makers that sign off on tech decisions, our first few years felt like a crash course in learning how districts procure technology.
During that time we poured into R&D, strengthening the product, refined our bulbSchool offering and built out our team, while carefully listening to our customers and what they would like to see in the product.
What are the factors that make your brand stand out from the competition?
This is truly where a picture is worth a thousand words, but if I had to explain it, I’d say our product is simple, beautiful and powerful, and it goes with the student or teacher. They do not lose it when they move to another school or graduate. Its simplicity and beauty invites students and teachers to use it more and more and to be proud of their work. The more they use it, the more they learn through curating and creating.
We find the simplicity on the other side of complexity. We do the dirty work of creating a platform so your work can look clean and beautiful. bulb has always held steadfast to a vision anchored beyond the current, most popular trend. Our purpose is to preserve the fundamental principles of education by transforming them into practical, simple and beautiful 21st-century technology.
How does your company contribute to the competitive global IT platform at large?
We humanize data. Technology can feel impersonal and robotic. In the bulb community, you are an important person, someone with passions, interests, dreams and achievements; someone who can teach and learn anything. The best technology makes us more human. bulb’s goal is that every student and teacher would be more than their test scores and GPAs. They would be students capable of taking on the future.
Do you have any new products ready to be launched?
We are gearing up to announce one of our company’s biggest releases since our inception – the release of our native iOS app! In time for Back to School, the iOS app will make it easier than ever to build out your portfolio, as learning is happening.
In addition to the app, you can expect to hear a lot about bulb in the 2nd half of 2018, including some very exciting new partnership announcements that will make bulb more accessible to students and educators around the world.
As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
We are pursuing a massive amount of opportunity in India, the Middle East, the EU and beyond. When it comes to education we understand that the US is just one of many. Each region has a vastly different approach to learning. bulb is a platform that can change the lives of millions of students on a global scale.
bulb Leadership: A Brief Background
Eric Goldreyer: As CEO at bulb Eric’s job is to keep the team on track to deliver the best digital portfolio available. Before developing a passion for education technology, Eric founded and grew a handful of successful businesses, mainly in the tourism industry; he is a travel and hospitality veteran. Mr. Goldreyer is founder and CEO of BedandBreakfast.com, founder and owner of FunAir, co-founder and board member of TurnKey Vacation Rentals.
Erik Petrik: With 25 years of experience as an educator at every level of the learning spectrum k-thru grad school, Erik is one of the founders of bulb and helps keep the vision clear and the team empowered. Most recently Erik has been the Chief Creative Officer for PGi for the past ten years, a global leader in communication technology. Mr. Petrik’s leadership and creative experience lay the foundation for bulb’s direction.
“bulb has always held steadfast to a vision anchored beyond the current, most popular trend. Our purpose is to preserve the fundamental principles of education by transforming them into practical, simple and beautiful 21st-century technology.”