Interview with David Lowe

David helps teaching professionals save time and streamline their data with Ed-Tech, when he's not busy acing strategy board games.

Q: Who are you? Introduce yourself as you would at a dinner party.
A: I'm a teacher turned entrepreneur. After 8 years as a teacher and administrator in the Seattle Public Schools, I've founded an ed-tech startup and built a data collection app for teachers called Snapfolio.


Q: What is your background? How does it differ from what you are doing now?

 

A: My undergrad was Informatics at the University of Washington, but after graduating I got my masters in teaching from Seattle University and started teaching 2nd grade. After 5 years as a classroom teacher I moved on to administration, working as a head teacher at two other schools. Snapfolio is a strong merger of my tech and education background.

 

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: With Snapfolio, we're trying to solve a problem that classroom teachers face on a daily basis. Teachers are constantly trying to collect data on their students' progress and then use that data to drive their instruction. But the really good data that comes up every day in the classroom doesn't come on tidy scantron sheets. It shows up in conversations between students, in authentic pieces of student work, and in small group lessons and a hundred other ways. Most teachers try and capture this data with checklists, notebooks, sticky notesor spreadsheets, but it's difficult. The data ends up fragmented and its overwhelmingly time consuming to sort through it all. Our vision with Snapfolio is to give teachers a fluid way to capture all of that data on the iPad, from spontaneous observations about individual students to the planned, whole-class assessments. All the insights they capture contribute to one data picture, which they quickly use to see the needs of individuals, small groups, and the entire class.

 

Q: Why did you join Impact Hub?

A: When I started Snapfolio I was a solo bootstrapper and a first-time entrepreneur. Impact Hub seemed like a great way to begin connecting with other people in the startup ecosystem, especially those with similar values around social impact.


Q: How do you make money?

A: I make money from Confer, which is a note-taking app I built for classroom teachers back when I was in the classroom. It lets teachers take notes on individuals and small groups, and then sort the class to see which students have common instructional issues. I originally built it as a tool for my own classroom, but over the past few years it's spread rapidly. it's been both the proof of concept and the starting capital that's launched my work with Snapfolio.


Q: What is something that really excites you right now?

A: I've recently brought on a technical co-founder, which has been tremendously exciting. He's really talented and is an amazing fit with the company, which is more than I'd ever hoped to find so soon in this process. So I'm definitely riding that wave of excitement right now.


Q: You have $10M to spend in the next year, and you can’t spend it on you, your friends or your family. How do you spend it?

A: I think the amount of personal, global wealth that doesn't go to really solveable problems like clean drinking water and educational acceess in third world countries is really heartbreaking. I can be just as guilty as those with more statistically significant wealth, and it's something I want to grow in. So if I had access to $10M, the bulk of it would go there.


Q: What’s on the horizon for you (a new project, career path, personal development)?

A: We're just getting started with developoment of Snapfolio, so that's filling the horizon. Our plan is to have an MVP in the App Store this summer and then to continue rapid iterations of it from there. This year is going to be a big one for us.


Q: Where do you usually hang out when you are at Impact Hub? How often are you here?

A: Right now I'm only at the Hub a couple days a month, and I'm usually upstairs by a window with my headphones on and my head down. But I'm also there for things like the Seattle Ed-Tech Meetup, geeking out on education with other folks.


Q: What is something we don’t know? (Either about you, or something else)

A: I'm a huge, shameless fan of strategy board games. It seems like only a subset of the population is even aware of the world of table-top games beyond Monopoly and Apples to Apples. I love introducing people to real board games, and I love nerding out with those who ate already deep down that rabbit hole.


Q: Give us your top three Seattle gems!

A: For those who are into table-top gaming, Card Kingdom in Ballard is awesome. It's a huge game store with an adjoining restaurant and bar where you can check out games, eat great food, and generally have a blast. For those interested in the intersection between social justice and faith, Quest Church (also in Ballard) is an incredible faith community. They really look honestly at things like racial reconciliation and global inequity and what it means to follow Jesus in persuing those things. And for those into unreasonably delicious baked goods, check out Thumbprints Baking Co. online. They're a new, local baking company and even their sheet cakes (sheet cakes, mind you) are worthy of water cooler conversation.

 

Contact David at confer.app@gmail.com .