Black History Month: Celebrating the success of Black founders with Google Cloud: Innovare
Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Innovare
Google for Startups Cloud Program
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Editor's note: February is Black History Month—a time for us to come together to celebrate the diverse identities and perspectives that make up the Black experience. Over the next few weeks, we will highlight Black-led startups and how they use Google Cloud to grow their businesses. This feature highlights Innovare co-founder Nicholas Freeman who, together with co-founders AJ DeLeón and ex-Googler Fernando DeLeón, is empowering educators to drive lasting change for students, parents, and communities.
Many public-school students in underserved communities face serious educational and social challenges, from literacy gaps to overcrowded classrooms and high rates of absenteeism and bullying. Although school improvement plans (SIPs) can help address issues, education leaders and their teams often lack the data insights and digital tools they need to drive lasting change.
We founded Innovare to empower education leaders to make decisions based on data and best practices to positively impact students, parents, and communities. Our comprehensive education intelligence platform offers intuitive project management tools, personalized dashboards, and advanced analytics that make it easy to create, implement, and assess the impact of SIPs.
Inno™ is an incredible tool that helps school leaders and their teams make more informed decisions based on real-time, actionable data insights. This makes a world of difference for students, teachers, and parents alike as it can open up a whole new realm of possibilities in areas such as improving instruction in the classroom, creating a more supportive environment for all stakeholders, and engaging the school community in meaningful collaboration. Inno™ is a one-stop shop for a school leader's decision-making needs and provides them with the data they need when they need it. As we expand our team, we’ll introduce new solutions such as AI-driven analytics and a marketplace of educational support partners that will further empower educators and community leaders to create positive, sustainable change. We’ll also support additional languages beyond English and Spanish as we launch Innovare in new markets worldwide.
"Connecting the work of multiple team members can get messy. Innovare helps to link effort to impact. It also creates transparency in the work and gives team members the opportunity to share problems of practice and solutions." — LeeAndra Khan, Executive Director, EPIC Academy, Chicago, IL
Transforming teaching and learning
Shortly after founding Innovare, we began searching for a reliable and knowledgeable partner who shares our philosophy of harnessing technology to transform teaching and learning. We also wanted to collaborate with a company that prioritizes diversity and inclusion and actively empowers Black and Latino founders. That’s why we joined the Google for Startups Cloud Program, participated in the Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders.
Joining these programs gave us immediate access to dedicated Google for Startup experts and Google Cloud credits which we used to trial, deploy, and scale the Google Cloud solutions that power Innovare. Specifically, we use Cloud Functions to cost-effectively run our applications without servers or containers—and leverage App Engine to quickly develop and launch new features for educators.
We democratize insights with BigQuery by generating district, school, and classroom level analytics at scale, while taking advantage of key low-latency features such as Pub/Sub to rapidly ingest and stream data. BigQuery seamlessly integrates with BigQuery ML, enabling Innovare to efficiently build and evaluate new machine learning (ML) models with standard SQL queries. We also archive terabytes of activity reports on Cloud Storage with Cloud Logging and keep customer information safe by granularly configuring access for all encrypted keys, passwords, and certificates with Secret Manager.
In the future, we plan to explore how Google Cloud AI and machine learning products such as Google's LLM models, AutoML, Vertex AI, and Deep Learning Containers can help Innovare implement advanced AI-driven analytics with predictive intelligence capabilities to help guide school improvement and impact measurement. We’re also looking forward to working closely with Google for Startup experts to automate the creation of personalized SIPs with dynamic, best-practice milestones that evolve based on student progress and teacher and stakeholder input.
Overcoming long-standing industry biases with the help of the Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders
The Google for Startups Cloud Program and the Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders have been invaluable to our success. Since completing the programs, we’ve introduced new solutions and services, significantly increased revenue, and have had an impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. and Mexico.
Our journey with Google Cloud highlights the importance of building an extensive support network and asking others for guidance when launching and scaling a startup. By working closely with dedicated Google for Startups experts, we bypassed major technical and business challenges while accelerating time to market. Perhaps most importantly, the Google Black Founders Accelerator empowered us to overcome long-standing industry biases.
“It has been an excellent opportunity to be a participant in the 2022 Black Founders Accelerator. The program offered the perfect mix of mentorship, learning, community building, and other engagement opportunities that were timely, realistic to implement, and had an immediate impact on a company at our stage. Gaining access to thought-leaders in the startup community and learning about and being provided the tools and processes to support our team in meeting our goals. All the while collaborating with a fantastic group of Black founders using their genius and technology to create solutions for the betterment of our communities. This experience will have an everlasting impact on our company’s ability to scale and continue to empower our education leaders through technology and data insights to impact the students and communities they serve.” — Nick Freeman, Co-founder + Chief Growth Officer, Innovare
I encourage Black founders to learn more about the Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders and the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, along with other organizations such as the Surge Institute, Education Pioneers, and Black Upstart. We know firsthand that networking with like-minded startups and attending community-based programs offer minority founders safe spaces to uplevel essential skillsets such as product design, sales tactics, and leadership strategies.
That’s why we’d like to invite founders from the Black community and other disenfranchised groups such as Latinx to reach out to the Innovare founding team. We’re passionate about supporting one another and look forward to elevating the hard work of our peers.
Empowering educators and positively impacting communities
Educator leaders are seeing incredible results with Innovare as they make data-driven decisions that positively impact students and communities.
“Working with Innovare has strengthened my leadership by providing me with the tools to easily visualize, synthesize, and focus on what matters most--student outcomes and data. Being able to utilize real-time student data to implement timely supports has been a game-changer." — Jasmine L. Thurmond, Principal, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academy of Social Justice, Chicago, IL
As we grow our team, we’ll continue to work closely with Google for Startups experts and Google Black Founders Accelerator advisors to further optimize our tech stack, develop additional educational solutions, and launch Innovare in new markets worldwide.
We eagerly anticipate our next success story as we provide educational leaders and their teams with the cutting-edge technology and data tools they need to bolster learning outcomes for all students, properly manage resources and budgeting, and foster a more collaborative environment among school stakeholders.
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