The 3G's That Led to 3GStrong's Passage to CodeLaunch
CodeLaunch 7 - the annual, national seed accelerator competition taking place on July 31 - will be better than ever with five ambitious startups pitching their startup idea to a panel and live audience with hopes of being chosen as the overall winner.
Learn more about our Social Impact finalist, 3GStrong, in this blog post detailing their startup journey and the critical role that CodeLaunch will play in the team’s narrative.
WHAT IS 3GSTRONG?
3GStrong is an interactive curriculum for teaching social, emotional and academic success.
Research shows that social and emotional skills are essential to success in school and career. 3GStrong is an online curriculum designed to teach children those social and emotional skills critical to success.
The offered curriculum is designed for schools, after school programs and in-home learning. 3GStrong’s Educational material includes e-learning, interactive books, games for all kids and so much more!
The 3GStrong curriculum also includes relevant and relatable characters in an entertaining presentation where teachers learn alongside students. Lessons include social and emotional development under three focal areas: grit, growth mindset and grace.
Students connect to the stories and learn from characters Grit, Theo and Grace, in real-life lessons that teach students tools to be in control of their emotions, how to increase their intelligence and strategies to overcome obstacles.
The 3GStrong lessons include teaching students about how their brain works and the power of breathing as one of the tools to be in control of their emotions, too.
3GSTRONG’S HISTORY & MILESTONES
Four years ago, Jamie Peden became the principal at the school where Kelly Starnes was a teacher. Both shared the idea that to really teach kids what they needed to succeed in today’s world, school must be more than reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Their belief was – and is – that it's important to create an emotionally safe culture in which kids can learn. Both were passionate about growing future adults and felt responsible as educators to make sure kids learn the tools to become happy, healthy and productive citizens.
Peden and Starnes became fast friends and spent many hours after school – and on weekends – talking about and trying to find ways to teach kids the skills they felt they needed.
They started by looking for things that were already created and found it hard to find a whole package to teach these "soft skills.” When they did find something that fit what they wanted to teach, they didn't believe the kids would like the lesson enough to make the skills stick, it wasn't consistent, or it required too much time and work for teachers to prepare.
Kelly and Jamie wanted a daily curriculum that would build culture, but it had to be short and fit into the busy daily schedule of elementary school without creating more work for teachers. They couldn't find what they wanted, so they began to brainstorm ideas on how and what to create on their own.
Knowing how young kids relate to superheroes and characters, their solution was to create online stories and activities about three characters who learn the same skills through situations today's kids really encounter at school. Jamie and Kelly developed realistic characters that learn social emotional skills like self and social awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision making, planning and organizing, goal setting, how effort matters in growth, as well as mindfulness and more.
Knowing that students and teachers learn alongside the characters, Jamie and Kelly organized these "soft skills" they felt kids needed to know under three main areas: grit, growth mindset and grace in the fall of 2016. There, 3GStrong was born, and they came up with the idea for the storyline that they used for 3GStrong in the fall of 2017.
With a small budget of startup money, they had an illustrator draw their characters and created their own scenes for the stories.
Furthermore, to create their website, they hired Ansley Fones Web Design & Development. Ansley helped them find presentation software that would work for 3GStrong stories and activities. They shared the stories with teachers and the response was overwhelming.
Since then, 3GStrong has evolved into a short, daily, online curriculum with professional voice-overs to read the stories aloud, activities that don't require materials, and discussion topics to help kids and teachers get to know each other and create class culture. Each lesson ends with a mindful breathing exercise to help kids learn to deal with stress and prepare for learning.
With the ease for teachers and the 3G skills kids were learning, teachers started asking for more. They said that it helped their students socially and allowed them to learn like never before academically with the sense of belonging and culture it created.
The company is growing, and the co-founders realize that they need their own platform to allow users to have the best experience as they move into making 3GStrong a viable business. CodeLaunch is allowing them to do this sooner than they ever imagined by making 3GStrong a viable business.
Jamie and Kelly aren't at the same school anymore, but they still share the same passion, which has developed into a budding business. These two have big aspirations for 3GStrong's future!
Several things along the way have really helped the co-founders know they were headed in the right direction. Here are a few that stand out as milestones that helped them keep their focus on growing 3GStrong so it could help as many students as possible.
Parents sharing success stories of kids applying 3GStrong at home
- A student hurt his leg, and he said he used the breathing techniques he learned to help him stay calm while he was at the doctor.
- A student fell at gymnastics and told her mother, “It is ok, Mom. I have a growth mindset and will get up and try again. I know I can get it.”
- A parent said her child was arguing with her brother and later asked her Mom if she showed her brother grace because she was really trying to be kind and work through the problem.
National after-school care program piloted 3GStrong in three sites in Texas
- An after-school care program saw the positive impact 3GStrong had on an elementary school where it was being implemented and before completion of the final product. They wanted to use what 3GStrong had to pilot the program at three of their after-school care sites in Texas. The managers at each site provided positive feedback, stating that the 3GStrong program made a real difference at their sites. After only using the program for a couple of weeks, they said they could see that students were acting more kind to one another, and that students were using the breathing strategies to calm themselves down when they were upset. Managers reported that the children's overall behaviors were better, and it helped their staff, too.
Teacher Survey Data - Took data on the schools where 3GStrong was piloted
- 3GStrong was thrilled to get survey data on the 3GStrong program. Although the program was still a work in progress, they saw significant results on campus from teachers and administrators. Teachers shared that the online stories were easy to use and that the stories really helped students understand how to effectively learn and reach their goals. The stories also helped students navigate through a variety of social situations. Students really related to the characters and saw themselves in at least one of the characters.
- Teachers felt students took ownership of learning and worked harder to reach their goals after 3GStrong was implemented.
- Kindness and compassion have increased, creating a positive culture. Students have learned and applied strategies to cope and solve problems.
- 100% of teachers surveyed felt that 3GStrong helped them be more aware of their own behaviors. This realization was huge because the founders of 3GStrong wanted teachers to learn along with the kids. They got validation that teachers were benefiting from the program, too.
Teacher Survey Data - Took data on the schools where 3GStrong was piloted
- A student with more than two years’ growth shared that learning how to learn and have a growth mindset helped her become a better student.
Presented at the Texas Elementary Principal and Supervisor Conference (TEPSA) in Austin, Texas
- The after-school program invited 3GStrong to present on their behalf after attending 3GStrong training. Since then, 3GStrong has received more inquiries about our program.
3Gstrong became a CodeLaunch finalist!
- After applying as a startup for the national seed accelerator and pitch competition, 3Gstrong was selected as one of the competition’s five finalists!
Jamie is the co-owner of 3GStrong with prior experience as a successful business owner and has been in the field of education for 14 years.
Kelly is the co-owner of 3Gstrong with 20 years of experience in education and has 10 years of experience leading professional training for educators.
Tiffany is a consultant for 3GStrong and brings 21 years of educational experience with 9 of those years in counseling. She has trained with some of the most influential and knowledgeable researchers on grit, growth mindset, and grace.
THE NEXT STEP
3GStrong’s startup journey is accelerating at CodeLaunch 7 on July 31 in Frisco, Texas’ Comerica Center! Those looking to support 3GStrong and other startups, network with local and national entrepreneurs, as well as interact with sponsors and partners should attend the seed accelerator competition and startup conference.
Members of the audience attending the pitch competition will help choose the overall winner of CodeLaunch 7. Support 3GStrong and come be a part of their big day!
Tickets are currently on sale, so get your ticket to RSVP for the greatest CodeLaunch event to date!
Congratulations on your startup success thus far, 3GStrong! We look forward to continually supporting your startup journey.
THE CODELAUNCH EXPERIENCE
3GStrong pitched their startup idea to a panel and live audience on July 31. The result: 3GStrong was awarded the title of CodeLaunch 7 Overall Winner! An exclusive CodeLaunch 7 championship-style belt was awarded to Jamie Peden and Kelly Starnes upon being announced as the winner, and confetti was cued in celebration, closing the finalists’ event.
The startup entrepreneurs are receiving extra seed services as a result of their recognition by the audience at CodeLaunch. Plus, their win has drawn the attention of a prominent Dallas media organization.
Peden and Starnes’ win was only one of the major takeaways during their time at the event. With over 500 people in attendance, the startup entrepreneurs say that they “met so many people who have connected [them] to others who may want to help 3GStrong continue to gain momentum.”
They met many of those people at the startup expo. The expo is a huge networking event with attendees who are looking to help propel startup companies. If you are an entrepreneur, it is a must because it can grow your network by leaps and bounds. Peden and Starnes now have new relationships with CodeLaunch Expo participants and are excited to see what is to come of their businesses.
The women know that “meeting other people passionate about their idea was a wonderful experience,” but there was something more that CodeLaunch offered them.
“We believe CodeLaunch pushed us out of our comfort zone, which needed to happen for us to further our product,” said the CodeLaunch 7 Overall Winner.
They went on to say that their key takeaway from participating in CodeLaunch as a finalist was that “It was more fun and more challenging than we expected. It felt great to have people see what we’ve been working on for four years and see the value in it. I think a lot of people have ideas that are worth seeing, but they don’t know how to change it into an actual product. This is what CodeLaunch can do. It can help you launch your product into more than just an idea.”
AFTER CODELAUNCH AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
When asked about their next steps following the national seed accelerator competition and startup expo, 3GStrong’s co-founders said, “We’ve met a lot of people who just want to help us get our product out there to help kids. Now, we’re looking to fund the rest of our platform and develop the rest of our curriculum so we can push it out as soon as possible to impact as many kids as possible.”
The startup has received a lot of attention since the event. People have contacted Peden and Starnes just to connect with them because they believe in the power of social, academic and emotional learning.
3GStrong plans to finish their application and get it implemented in Texas’ school curriculum as soon as possible. Then, they anticipate “branching out and changing the world to have Grit, a Growth Mindset, and Grace.”
A MESSAGE TO AND FROM 3GSTRONG
In closing their recap of their CodeLaunch experience as social impact finalists, Peden and Starnes advise people to take the chance.
“Fill out the form. Just try it. You might just surprise yourself. You may have just what the world needs!” said 3GStrong’s co-founders.
From everyone here at Code Authority, we wish 3GStrong continued success, as CodeLaunch is now under their belt – a CodeLaunch 7 Overall Winner’s belt, that is.