Joseph Cohen, Lore
Launched: November 2011
What Lore does: Lore is part social network for higher education, and part Blackboard (the commonly used online course-management system). Teachers can use Lore to post their syllabus, reading materials, grades, calendars, and links, and interact with students. But it is also a social network for students to communicate with each other.
How it’s changing the game: “Our personal life is on Facebook, our business life is on LinkedIn; but if you think about educational life, it doesn’t exist online,” says Cohen. “You go to class, you have a great experience, and then when class is over, that’s it. The conversation is done. But we know that this is an old way of living. Now, the conversation continues; we live on the internet. And all these students are online anyway, and so what we do is we basically bring the idea of Facebook and LinkedIn to the educational world.”
In addition to producing a unique product, Lore also has an innovative business model in the academic software space. Instead of going to these schools and trying to get these big sales licenses, Lore offers the product directly to individual instructors and individual students.
After raising $1 million in seed capital last May, Cohen, 21, and his co-founders, Dan Getelman and Jim Grandpre, all dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania to start Lore. When asked if his age or inexperience made securing the funding a challenge, Cohen says, “The best part of the technology industry is that they respect young people. They do what no other industry does and it’s worked. We’ve seen it time and time again—a group of really young people who are really ambitious, crazy, and hungry, go out and do something extraordinary. I think it actually helps to be young.”
What’s next: Cohen expects to roll out a much larger product sometime over the next six months that will incorporate communities other than just the class. Lore will be building communities of learning around different universities and other institutions of higher learning, as well as communities organized around majors. His long term goal is much bigger. “We believe that people should be able to get an education without having to access it through a physical school,” says Cohen. “Whether it’s because of age, money, or geographic location, we think people should be able to get a great education. And so we’re pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Right now, an instructor can use Lore to teach their course in person, but they can decide to make it public so that the whole world can view what’s happening in class, which is a really cool thing.”
Photography by Jill Lotenberg
Daria Meoli is the Executive Editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org