InferCabulary, a Towson University Incubator-based education technology startup created to help solve illiteracy, received a $250,000 joint investment from the University System of Maryland (USM) Maryland Momentum Fund. The funding will be used to expand the team and to accelerate growth.
InferCabulary is a tool that helps learners infer deep meanings of nuanced words for themselves by analyzing and interpreting the common thread among carefully chosen images and provided captions. The approach offered by InferCabulary’s software is the opposite of rote memorization and, instead, mimics avid readership. It also is designed to teach the many contexts of words in a fraction of the time, which in turn, accelerates student comprehension across the curriculum.
The startup was co-founded by Beth Lawrence, a Towson University graduate, and Deena Seifert. Their company is also based at TU Incubator.
“We have grown significantly since launching our web-based InferCabulary out of TU Incubator. We have been so supported by the Maryland community, including TEDCO, and now the Momentum Fund,” said CEO Beth Lawrence.
TU Incubator is a mixed-use business incubator at Towson University. Founded in 2007, TU Incubator has supported over 75 companies and produced greater than $50 million in economic impact.
Today, TU Incubator is focused on technology enabled services, particularly those that focus on university core competencies, such as education and healthcare. TU Incubator encourages engagement and collaboration between organizations to augment the resources needed to establish a strong business foundation.
“As speech language pathologists, Beth and Deena understand the impact that literacy and having a broad, deep vocabulary have on academic achievement. As entrepreneurs, they have the passion and vision to make their product a success,” said Patrick McQuown, executive director of entrepreneurship at Towson University. “This investment will help fuel their future success.”
Vicki Weinberg, an education specialist with the Minnesota State Department of Education said, “This has set me on fire because it is elegant and usable by general education teachers…I saw the immediate promise of this technology.”
The Company’s “Literacy Brought to Life” concept uses images and context clues to help define unfamiliar words. Active student engagement is a requisite, since students must use inductive and deductive reasoning combined with pictures to help make sense of new words.
“Beth and her team have grit and resilience and are very coachable” said Claire Broido Johnson, Managing Director of the Momentum Fund. “This is all about distribution partnerships. InferCabulary has built early partnerships, and as they accelerate, they will become an attractive acquisition target for several different existing players.”
The USM Maryland Momentum Fund provides investment funding for promising technology ventures born out of USM’s 12 institutions. The Momentum Fund supports early stage companies so they can move beyond grant funding and early stage seed investors to position themselves for commercial launch or to reinforce commercialization at the early revenue stage.
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.