The Macomb Community College Innovation Fund decided to fund Alchemie because they are a dedicated and knowledgeable team with the ability to make Alchemie a world class educational platform. This team has worked tirelessly to develop and grow the Alchemie brand in a short period of time; they have the technology and industry knowledge to ensure the execution of their mission and vision. We are proud to be a part of their growth and are excited to see the strides they make as they move forward.
We were introduced to Alchemie in November 2014. We continued to meet with the Founder and CEO, Julia Winter on an ongoing basis and in July 2017 we made our first investment in the company. The company is working on bringing to market what has the potential to be a game changer as it pertains to education in STEM and simultaneously providing an effective assessment tool for teachers. We believe the company has made good progress and continues to aggressively pursue all avenues for further development and support. Its CEO has done an excellent job of building the company's team as well as expanding its network of support and utilizing the Michigan ecosystem support services. Further validation of the company is its success in obtain SBIR funding. The company and team are worthy of confidence and support.
I've gotten to know the Alchemie team over the past few months, and I've been impressed with the unique way they are thinking about educational technology and the clear commitment they have to building Alchemie into a world class company. The founders are extremely thoughtful in their approach to product development and market strategy, and they've clearly demonstrated that have the technical chops and industry expertise to realize their vision.
As a leader in education technology, I meet with dozens of new ed-tech startups every year. In the first 5 mins of meeting with Alchemie, I knew it was an impressive startup. I especially love their passion and their clear eyed understanding of the market need and the market opportunity.
From my perspective, Julia Winter and the team at Alchemie have a clear, strong approach to solving the problems students have in the sciences. Starting with the biggest pain point, organic chemistry, where students have fail rates upwards of 40%, Alchemie has created a game that addresses key principles while maintaining a clean design and an addictive interface. Organic chemistry is an extremely challenging course, especially with the manner it is taught in high schools and colleges across the world. It is an area that is ripe for innovation, where an immediate feedback loop, gamification, and a mobile learning interface can yield practical results for students with aspirations for a career in STEM. With the value Alchemie can demonstrate to students in this challenging subject, they’ll establish a foothold that could allow them to become the game designer supplementing education across the hard sciences.
Like the summary says, Organic Chem is a dream killer for students seeking science careers. It's also a student success stumbling block for institutions seeking to improve STEM outcomes.
With the right application and focus on data, Julia and her team are well-positioned to provide a tool that can help unleash predictive insights on when the school can and should provide extra resources and support.
It's smart, focused and accessible tools like the Alchemie games that will ultimately power those predictive student success tools and help institutions focus their resources. Smart institutions will get on board.
I have followed Julia since the months leading up to the 2014 Twin Cities StartupWeekend EDU. Given her strong social media presence and clear subject matter expertise, I was particularly eager to see her pitch and no less impressed to see her then build a team and a product that digitized and gamified her years worth of science learning insights and finished in the top two at SWEDU. She has remained relentless in the year since, pursuing her start-up through regional bootcamps, business plan competitions, the SXSWedu sandbox. Alchemie's tenacity, team, proprietary IP into chemistry and science learning strategies (and challenges) and personalized learning technology make them one to watch.
I am excited about the mobile chemistry games from Alchemie. If games are developed that are fun and engaging while teaching chemistry it will be a great benefit for students. The first two games, Chairs and Cyclo6, address key points in organic chemistry: drawing 3d structures and mechanisms. Organic chemistry is traditionally one of the more difficult courses students take. Many students fail to see the connections between learning organic chemistry and learning critical thinking and problem solving. These games can increase problem-solving skills in fun ways that encourage students to keep working beyond homework problems. My students used Chairs (fall 2014). It gave them more practice in drawing 3d structures than they could get during class. I am also really excited for Cyclo6. Being able to play with molecules and ions by bringing them in contact to find the most likely reaction site on each molecule will be great for my students in learning organic chemistry.
I recently used Chairs! this past year in my organic chemistry courses at Augsburg College. Every year the ability to develop spatial reasoning skills is consistently difficult for my students particularly with 6-membered cyclohexane ring flips. After encouraging my students to download Chairs! and taking class time for practice and a contest, I am extremely impressed with the results. My students as a whole were much more adept at ring flips than in any previous semesters. I am excited to see more games and apps, and I believe the potential of these types of learning tools will have a great impact in the future learning of my students.
I am very impressed with Julia Winter and the Alchemie team's clearsighted approach of the potential market for games in the K12 and higher education market. The sticky, addictive nature of their first, simple game holds incredible promise up and down the value chain of science education. Courses like organic chemistry end the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands of students intent on careers in STEM. One can imagine every freshman downloading the ONE game that's going to help them pass their first college chemistry or biology class and then subscribing for four years to Alchemie's suite of analytical games that are focused on helping them succeed and pass that critical class. The same market potential exists in middle and high school. Their approach is refreshing because they aren't trying to "boil the ocean" by replacing textbooks or eliminating instructors. What's more, their integratabtle games have a huge market potential to bring textbooks to life and improve instruction.
Alchemie's Chairs game is a smart way to help students improve their spatial reasoning skills and understand ring flips. Anything that helps students master concepts instead of memorize formulas or specific reactions is a major improvement. Looking forward to seeing what they do next.
Alchemie participated in American Chemical Society's (ACS) Showcase West pitch competition on April 21, 2015 in San Diego. Their presentation received above average scores and positive reviews from an expert panel of investor judges. Comments about the pitch ranged from "Novel, beneficial, inspiring," to "Great, socially useful idea," to "Fantastic presentation!" We wish the best of luck to Alchemie, who is a current participant in the ACS Entrepreneurial Resources Center program (more info at acs.org/erc).