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SBIR Pulse Interview #7

Post Date:
January 13, 2016
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SBIR Awareness Day on the Hill:  A Q&A with the Founders of Mindset Works
This issue of SBIR Pulse interviews Lisa Blackwell and Ed Briceño, the founders of Mindset Works, an education technology company that presented at SBIR Awareness Day on Capitol Hill on December 8, 2015. Mindset Works is the recipient of SBIR awards from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.
Lisa Blackwell and Ed Briceño the founders of Mindset Works
SBIR Pulse: Why was Mindset Works founded?
LB:  I met Carol Dweck at Columbia, where she had discovered how people’s mindsets about their ability--whether they think it is fixed, or malleable--drives their motivation and behavior. Our research found that mindsets at the beginning of 7th grade predicted students’ math outcomes over the next 2 years. This inspired us to start our business and to create an intervention to change mindsets by teaching kids about how their brains get smarter with learning and effort.
SBIR Pulse: Why was the 2010 SBIR award from the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences important to where Mindset Works is today as a company?
EB:  The 2010 ED/IES SBIR award was catalytic for us. It allowed us to take the research-based approach that Carol and Lisa had developed from a brief student intervention to a system, the Mindset Works® SchoolKit, that enables schools to transform culture among leaders, teachers, and students. We’ve been able to serve many more customers and continue to develop and test new resources, as well as grow our business at 30%+ per year.
SBIR Pulse: What is the current status of the Mindset Works® SchoolKit?
EB: We launched the SchoolKit in 2012. It has now been used by hundreds of schools across the US and internationally. In the past few years, districts, including in DC, have begun to use the SchoolKit to drive change at scale, with great results.
LB: We’re committed to ongoing rigorous research as well. Most recently, we were awarded a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to study the efficacy of the Brainology program, including impact on students’ motivation, behavior, and achievement over time.
SBIR Pulse: What does the future hold for the growth mindset movement for students and adults?
EB:  It’s an exciting time. Awareness has grown immensely, which comes with both risk and opportunity. The risk is that many people have a nascent understanding of growth mindset and may implement it ineffectively, but it is also an opportunity to help them deepen their understanding and effectiveness. Long term, our goal is for everyone to become a lifelong learner.
SBIR Pulse: Ed, your 2013 TEDx Talk on the growth mindset has been viewed almost 1.2 million times on YouTube. Did you expect so many views? How does that feel?
EB:  Before the event, I thought it would most likely be viewed by a few people, but if I worked hard to prepare a great talk, it might prove to be a useful tool for many. I’m so glad that turned out to be the case!  Yet further evidence that through effort we can improve our abilities and make impactful contributions.
 This interview was produced by Edward Metz of the Department of Education.
SBIR Awareness Day on the Hill was held on December 8, 2015, in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  The morning event showcased small businesses who have demonstrated significant commercial success and societal impact as a result from their SBIR awards. The event brought together government leaders, technology developers, stakeholders, and SBIR program representatives that operate SBIR programs across 11 different Federal agencies. For a previous SBIR Pulse interview of Shannon Rhoten of SBA, the organizer of the event, see here.
About SBIR Pulse
SBIR Pulse provides interviews with individuals from the different corners of the high-tech, start-up ecosystem. The intent is to share various perspectives on how SBIR impacts small businesses, drives innovation, and leads to technological solutions.
 The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are collectively the largest single source of early-stage capital for innovative small companies in the United States. The federal government invests over 2 billion dollars in early stage and high growth American entrepreneurial firms to develop and commercialize technologies that strengthen our nation's defense, improve the health of our citizens, and enhance education. For more information, please visit, and follow us on Twitter (@SBIRgov)!

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