In a talk geared toward technologists who are considering starting a business or in the very early stages of product development, Tiffany Mikell and Kortney Ziegler explore the role open source technologies and communities played in the success of their company, BSMdotCo—a tech startup using a wide range of open source technologies to bootstrap and build educational tools that have a focus on customization, accessibility, and learning styles. Tiffany and Kortney explain how they have been able to not only create radical models for delivering education but also develop a technology platform—based on WebRTC and other open source frameworks—that is being used by their customers to shift the delivery of education in ways that matter to them.
Because of their unique and nontraditional backgrounds in engineering and tech entrepreneurship, open source technologies and communities were important in helping both founders launch as industry thought leaders and build proofs of concept, prototypes, and ultimately a minimum viable product with incredible traction. Tiffany and Kortney discuss how they contribute to open source conversations and how the open source projects to which they contribute are helping to make the Internet more collaborative and interactive at large. In addition, Tiffany and Kortney share the specific frameworks and projects that have been particularly useful along the bootstrapping journey and work with attendees to identify a collection of potential OS projects that may be helpful for their particular business ventures and ideas.
Tiffany Mikell is the CEO/CTO of BSMdotCo. Tiffany has over 10 years of professional experience in technology, entrepreneurship, and education design. She began her career as Java developer and technical architect with a specialization in ERP, BI, and SaaS-based solutions at Accenture, where she led a series of company-wide open source initiatives. In 2010, Tiffany founded a successful technology consulting firm to develop SaaS platforms for nonprofits and social enterprises. In 2013, she helped Dev Bootcamp launch its Chicago location and played a key role on the founding team. Her current ventures are focused on building tools for real-time, browser-based communication with a focus on adult education.
Kortney Ziegler is the COO and lead experience architect for BSMdotCo, as well as an award-winning filmmaker, early Internet blogger, professor, and technology founder with over 10 years of education design, media, and ecommerce experience. Kortney is the first person to receive a PhD in African American studies from Northwestern University and the founder of TransH4CK—a virtual hackathon series recently funded by the Marc and Laura Andreessen Foundation that has recently partnered with Harvard’s Innovation Lab. By leveraging his extensive experience in interactive education design, Kortney is uniquely positioned to transform access to relevant and valuable education in markets currently underserved.
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