Ed tech accelerators go corporate: Pearson and Kaplan launch startup programs

Have an idea for an ed tech startup? Now might be a good time to go forward with it, because in the last month not one, not two, but four new ed tech accelerators have launched.

Earlier this month, we reported on the launches of Boston’s LearnLaunchX and New York’s Socratic Labs. On Monday, Kaplan (s WPO) and TechStars announced a new ed tech accelerator and on Wednesday, Pearson (s PSO) announced its own incubator for ed tech companies. Until this year, Palo Alto’s ImagineK-12 was the only traditional accelerator focused on ed tech.

While Kaplan’s program will follow the model of other TechStars programs (mentorship, space and capital in exchange for a bit of equity), Pearson is taking a slightly different approach with its incubator, called Catalyst. Ten accepted startups will continue to work from their own locations and mostly receive remote access to Pearson executives and product experts. They’ll each receive a $10,000 stipend for travel and other expenses (to enable meetings with their mentors and others), and will have the opportunity to present at a Demo Day at the end of the program.

Another big difference in the Pearson model is that the company won’t be taking an equity stake in any of the companies accepted to the program. If and when the startups raise financing, Pearson could invest separately, but there are no guarantees. The company also said that Pearson could become a customer of one of the startups during the program.

Socratic Labs has already announced the startups in its inaugural class, but it will be interesting to see what kinds of companies the other programs attract and accept. Pearson’s name and position as a potential acquirer could appeal to founders, as could the fact that its program doesn’t take equity. But while Pearson’s program only provides mentorship from Pearson executives, Kaplan’s accelerator, which will be based in New York, carries the weight of the TechStars brand and offers access to a wider group of mentors. Supporters include ed tech founders Udemy CEO Eren Bali, Kaplan’s CEO Andy Rosen, and General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz, as well as TechStars co-founders David Cohen and Brad Feld, Columbia University’s chief digital officer Sree Sreenivasan and others.