Scholar Hero is now in Closed Beta! Sign up for a live demo!

After a year of planning, hacking, and iterating, Scholar Hero is now officially in closed beta! We are now taking requests for live demos in the greater Pittsburgh area and select remote demos nationwide.

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Those who are selected for closed beta are eligible for reduced rate unlimited accounts in the near future as a thank you for the priceless feedback they will provide for us. We will only offer closed beta accounts to a very small group of people, so please sign up for them as soon as you can.

To sign up, simply click on the link here and fill out a very brief form. We will be in contact with you soon to follow up. Thank you for your support!

The link: http://www.scholarhero.com/beta-signup

Scholar Hero would like to thank a lot of individuals for helping us get to this point:

To learn more about Scholar Hero, visit scholarhero.com or fill out our contact form to speak directly to our staff. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+

Once again, the link to sign up for closed beta: http://www.scholarhero.com/beta-signup

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Scholar Hero is accepted into the Idea Foundry’s Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program!

Yay!

(from left) Technical Director Michael Butler, Founder and Executive Director Lee Ngo, and Idea Foundry Program Manager Gary Gardiner

Amazing news for Scholar Hero! On November 5th, 2013, we have accepted our invitation to join the Idea Foundry’s Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program! The Idea Foundry (www.ideafoundry.org) is one of Pittsburgh’s premiere technological and business startup accelerator programs in southwestern Pennsylvania. Their Entertainment & Ed Tech program is unparalleled in the region, and it is perfect for Scholar Hero’s current aspirations.

For Scholar Hero, this is a terrific milestone. This program provides the company with its first official investment, just nine months after its incorporation and barely a year after its initial conception during Startup Weekend Pittsburgh #2. The Idea Foundry also provides mentoring, advisement, and other standard resources that come with a prestigious, competitive accelerator. We haven’t been this excited since being selected as part of the inaugural class of the Thrill Mill Hustle Den incubator program!

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo pitching at Google Pittsburgh for the Thrill Mill Thrival Innovation series.

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo pitching at Google Pittsburgh during Thrill Mill’s Innovation Series.

Another great perk about the Idea Foundry is its close proximity to Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, schools with students, professors, and staff that we hope will be among the first early adopters of our platform. Testing and validating our product could not be made any easier for us now, and we hope that more established partnerships might emerge as well from the improved locations.

Moreover, because of our acceptance into the Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program, we are also being evaluated early for Idea Foundry’s highly competitive Core Program as well. Potentially, this puts us in a position to receive more funding! (One step at a time…)

The Scholar Hero Development Team hard at work on our first prototype.

The Scholar Hero Development Team hard at work on our first prototype.

“We are truly ecstatic and grateful to have the support of the Idea Foundry as we continue to develop our platform and build our potential user base,” says Lee Ngo, founder and executive director of Scholar Hero. “Program Manager Gary Gardiner and the Idea Foundry have provided us with wonderful feedback over the course of the year, and they have been a major influence in our overall conceptual, technical, and business development. We look forward to our continued partnership over the next three months and beyond.”

We hope that this is the first of many future successes to come! Our selection into this renowned accelerator program provides further validation for our unique and innovative concept, but now the pressure is on for us to deliver! We hope to do you proud, Idea Foundry!

To learn more about Scholar Hero, visit http://www.scholarhero.com or fill out the contact form below:

Lee Ngo is the founder and executive director of Scholar Hero, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Simple Essentials of Publishing

The process for academic publishing can appear frustrating and overwhelming, even for the most practiced scholar. It is tempting to get too caught up in the intricacies of research, publishers, and the peer community; however, focusing too much on the larger issues and forgetting the fundamentals can lead to a stressful and unproductive journey through the process.  The following basic tips can help when entering the rewarding world of publishing.

There is a place and a time for writing. Have a firm idea of where your workspace is and when you will be working there. It is important to pick a place and a time that will be reliably free of distraction. Keep it consistent from day to day.

Do not try to conquer the world all at once. You may be eager to start impacting minds, but it is often more fruitful to work in smaller, more productive sessions. Trying to get it all down at one time can over-tax your time and energy.

Keep it close until it’s done. It is tempting to share your work with others to make certain that you are on the right track. The input of others, at this stage, could blur your original intent and negative feedback can convince you that your concept is overdone and not worth pursuing. Remember, this is your work and what you create will always be original.

Open up and share. When your draft is complete, bring in as many trusted peers as you can round up. Not all of their advice will be helpful, but be receptive to it. Ask them to be as descriptive in their feedback as they can, and notice trends between critiques.

Rewrite until you get it right. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Get feedback the entire way.

Know your publishers before they get to know you. Research the journals or publishing houses that you intend to send your manuscript to. Recognize what subjects they tend to print and verify that they are the right ones for your work. If you are unsure, e-mail the editor. Don’t waste time and resources sending to publishers who have no interest in your particular piece.

Don’t give up. Scholars, especially those new to publishing, will face a lot rejection. It is important to see each one as another stepping-stone towards an eventual success. Keep writing and rewriting. Keep submitting.

Good luck to academic authors! Let us know of your publishing experiences in the comments below.

Where “U” Rank: World’s Top 100 Universities of 2013

How prestigious is your university? Times Higher Education recently released this year’s reputation rankings for colleges across the globe. The meticulous methodology for their survey (found here: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2012/reputation-ranking/methodology) leaves little in the way of surprises, although some universities should be pleased at the changes from previous years.  Here are some highlights:

The first three positions on the list remain unchanged since 2011 with Harvard University as number one and MIT and Cambridge to follow, but Oxford moves up two ranks from last year to round out the top four.

Rank Number One: Harvard (Photo Source: Patricia Drury http://www.flickr.com/photos/patriciadrury/)

Rank One: Harvard (Photo Source: Patricia Drury http://www.flickr.com/photos/patriciadrury/)

The United Kingdom occupies two positions in the top ten while The United States takes up an outstanding seven. The University of Tokyo, coming in at rank nine is the only one in the top twenty.

Rank Nine: The University of Tokyo (Photo Source: Hideyuki KAMON http://www.flickr.com/photos/hyougushi/)

Rank Nine: The University of Tokyo (Photo Source: Hideyuki KAMON http://www.flickr.com/photos/hyougushi/)

In Scholar Hero’s own backyard are Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, who both managed to remain in the top 100. Carnegie Mellon jumped an impressive eleven positions from last year to achieve thirty-seventh. However, Pitt continues to fall in the rankings, going from the sixties to the seventies.

A view of CMU with Pitt's Cathedral of Learning in the background. (Photo Source: Filipe Fortes http://www.flickr.com/photos/fortes/)

A view of CMU with Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning in the background. (Photo Source: Filipe Fortes http://www.flickr.com/photos/fortes/)

You can read more about the data and see all of the rankings here: http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/mar/05/world-top-100-universities-reputation-rankings-times-higher-education

Let us know where your university ranks.

 Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Is academia a “no-win scenario”? Scholar Hero does the “impossible”

Getting a startup off the ground is a lot like taking the Kobayashi Maru. Getting an educational startup off the ground, however, is a lot like taking the Kobayashi Maru if you’re not Captain James T. Kirk.

Earlier this month, Greg Meyer of Information Maven wrote this article on why working on a startup is a lot like the Kobayashi Maru simulation test featured in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the most recent 2009 re-boot film.

For the really uninitiated, the “Kobayashi Maru” is an unbeatable test, frequently described as depicting a “no-win scenario.” In the ostensible context of the film, the test examines how a Starfleet cadet responds under impossible circumstances and, ultimately, the potential commander that they will be.

The certificate remains blank for a reason… with one exception. (Source: http://www.ioffer.com/i/kobayashi-maru-certificate-star-trek-personalized-198799678)

How is the Kobayashi Maru like a startup?

For metaphorical purposes, Meyer applies the scenario to the archetypal startup:

“Startups are created with the purpose of becoming big, failing, or being bought. They seem feel like the proverbial no-win situation because everything has a competitor. If someone isn’t spending money with you, they are spending money on something else that they’ve probably been doing for a long time. And there’s so much noise everywhere. How can anyone possibly create something new?

Creating something new can take many forms. Like Kirk, the startup founders who solve this Kobayashi Maru problem change the rules of the simulation.”

In other words, startups need a James T. Kirk, someone who is incredibly agile, gifted at tactile thinking, and willing to “bend” the rules in order to claim victory. (He remains the only person in Star Trek history to ever “beat” the Kobayashi Maru.) Innovation comes in many forms, but it usually happens when someone will maneuver through the obstacles that they will inevitably face while trying to confront the status quo.

How is this relevant to Scholar Hero?

Do we have a James T. Kirk? We’d like to think we’re all carry an essence of Kirk within our hearts, but that means our challenge is to change the rules of the game. In our case, it’s academia, the space which we see to be ripe for much change. Unfortunately, academia is a space where:

  • There is a lot of resistance to change, perhaps moreso than most spaces of innovation
  • A lot of companies are also trying to change it, but their efforts are falling short
  • There are limited resources to devote towards any significant change
  • Forces beyond our control can completely marginalize our efforts, such as government policy or economic fluctuations

So can anything be done? Absolutely.

scholar hero fire

Heroes don’t ask what they can or can’t do; they only ask what they will or won’t. (Source: http://www.scholarhero.com)

What would James T. Kirk do? This is what we ask ourselves at the start of every day (seriously).

Even though we might be up against a much more adamant status quo, the size of the mountain should never deter whether or not we want to climate.

What we will do is change the system. We will find a way reconfigure the very essence of whatever is afflicted by the malady, or we will redefine the problem altogether if we must.

How will we do this? We have a lot of products in our backlog, but right now, we are proud of two in particular that we will debut in a few months and soon to our private beta testers. We’re on well on our way to make a huge impact!

Like many startups, Scholar Hero started with a strong sense of conviction towards the ability to change the world for the better. We are convinced that the change will happen out of a sheer necessity for the survival of the academic community.

And we are the ones to deliver that change.
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