CHAPEL HILL, NC – Julian Wooten holds degrees in biology and chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill, and nanomedicine from UNC Chapel Hill’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and recently decided to pursue an MBA.
But it was prestigious teaching internships at Philips Exeter Academy and Johns Hopkins University that led him to become an entrepreneur and launch a company called Students and Teachers Employing New Criteria in Learning, or STENCIL. The company develops software that allows teachers and school administrators to manage data on student attendance, behavior and course performance. The cloud-based toolkit helps school officials spot patterns and predict if a student is at risk of dropping out of high school.
“During my teaching internships, I saw how much teachers have to do during a typical day,” said Wooten. “I started to think about how to help them manage their load and help their students.”
As a trained scientist, Wooten set out to create software that would use empirical data to combat the dropout problem. STENCIL, which he launched with fellow UNC alumnus Cameron Musler, mines student data looking for trends and patterns and alerts teachers and administrators when the data shows patterns that are consistent with a high risk of dropping out.
“For every four students that begin high school, one won’t finish,” Wooten explained. “So we really wanted to launch this program to save our schools from crisis. Our software is designed to spot problems before they become critical, before they result in another student deciding to leave school.”
STENCIL has attracted the attention of both educators and the Triangle business community. In October, STENCIL was selected for mentorship by the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, a program that identifies and nurtures high-potential innovations coming out of Triangle area universities. The network works with up to 30 startups every year, providing needed connections to the entrepreneurial community and expert advice on everything from attracting venture capitalists to marketing.
This past summer, The Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University selected Wooten as a finalist for the North Carolina Emerging Issues for Innovation Prize and the company was selected to join Carolina Launch Pad, the pre-commercial incubator for UNC technology startups housed at RENCI.
Not the type to rest on his laurels, Wooten also set out on a statewide tour of entrepreneurial meetings over the summer, presenting his business model and his dream of making an impact on education.
This January, The North Carolina School for Science and Math will test the STENCIL software. In the fall of 2013, Wooten plans to launch a larger pilot program.
Through participation in Carolina Launch Pad and the partnerships and learning opportunities made possible by the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, Wooten says he anticipates a year of growth and opportunities for STENCIL.
“I am very excited about the future of STENCIL and about our opportunity to provide tools that will improve our educational system.”
For more information:
Carolina Launch Pad and RENCI support the Innovate@Carolina Roadmap, UNC’s plan to help Carolina become a world leader in launching university-born ideas for the good of society. To learn more about the roadmap, visit http://innovate.unc.edu.