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Help a MassChallenge startup: Native Brain

Posted by Chad O'Connor  January 16, 2013 11:00 AM

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Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Native Brain get started?
The two Native Brain co-founders, Michael Connell and Jeff Durso, met as undergraduates at MIT. After earning a Master’s degree in Computer Science there, Michael went deep into education – eventually earning a Doctorate in Education at Harvard - while Jeff completed a degree at MIT’s Sloan School and went on to become a serial entrepreneur.

In September of 2011, after consulting on educational research and design projects for other companies for many years, Michael decided to explore the educational potential of touchscreen computers like smartphones and tablets. He reached out to Jeff for advice on starting a technology product company. Through his research and consulting, Michael had developed and tested powerful instructional design tools that could raise the bar on the quality and effectiveness of educational technologies. Jeff had gained deep experience with modern business models and marketing strategies to grow his previous businesses - and now he could use these skills to accelerate the development of a meaningful business in the education space. Both were accomplished software developers.

And so Native Brain was born - out of a shared desire to bring together high-quality learning research, emerging technologies, and modern business models to create a viable company that would make world-class learning experiences available to everyone.

What does Native Brain do?
Native Brain draws on the best available learning research to create iPad apps that deliver mastery-based, adaptive curricula for early math and language arts. We are committed to validating the learning efficacy of our apps, and are constantly running research studies to evaluate both the experience and the learning outcomes.

Our first app, Native Numbers, is a complete curriculum for developing number sense, which is the conceptual foundation for all future math learning. The initial response from parents and teachers has been tremendous. For example, Native Numbers was named one of the “12 BEST Children’s Educational Apps of 2012” by based on tests of the app with actual children.

How can our readers be of help?
Native Brain exists to help all children learn, love, and master math, language arts, and other subjects. Everyone can support great learning in several ways:

Buy the app: It might sound obvious, but if you believe that high-quality learning experiences are important you can help us create more of them by simply buying a copy of the app. One friend immediately bought a copy even though he doesn’t own an iPad! Why? Because he thinks quality education is important. (Think Kickstarter.)

If you like it, recommend it: Whether you buy the Native Numbers app, watch the product video, or read something you like on our web site, if you like what you see, spread the word. Rate or review it (on iTunes), Tweet it, post it on Facebook, or email it directly to people you know who might benefit from it.

Connect us with schools and learning centers: Native Brain is always looking for opportunities to collaborate with schools and other learning organizations to validate the efficacy of our products and learn how to make them even better. If you know someone at a school or organization who might be interested in a research-based early math app, contact us to make an introduction.

If you know of an individual or an organization that could contribute in any of those ways, please take a minute to get in touch. Stay connected with Native Brain on Facebook and Twitter.

[We thank our MassChallenge series video partner Vsnap. Due to format changes, previous videos are no longer accessible. Please visit for a great video communication tool.]

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Boston World Partnerships' expert "Connectors" discuss business strategy, entrepreneurship, Boston's place in the world economy, and much more. Using their insider perspective, they illuminate how Boston's innovative companies start, grow, scale, and go global.

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