Pivotal Testing was born when Braden needed an idea to pitch at Blacksburg Startup Weekend. He told himself, “I am just going to pitch this idea and see what happens.” Within just a few days, Braden and his team built a demo, conducted market research, and went on to take second place at Startup Weekend. Five days later Braden’s team won $1,000 after pitching their idea at “Small Bucks, Big Bang!” an event hosted by the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council. After gaining so much momentum in less than a month Braden, who had previously been working on another startup, decided to move forward with Pivotal Testing and leave his other projects behind.
Pivotal Testing is a program that allows teachers to choose from preformatted questions types and create tests that students can take from their cell phones or other touch screen interfaces. Braden’s vision behind Pivotal Testing, was to empower teachers and allow them to create Technology Enhanced Assessments with a platform that is “sleek, beautiful and easy to use.” With competitors like Blackboard and Scholar already providing similar products, Braden wanted to introduce a system that focused on more than a student’s ability to memorize information. Pivotal Testing does this by getting rid of traditional testing styles like multiple choice and true - false and requires students to interact with problems. Teachers are able to test conceptual understanding with questions that ask students to perform tasks like pointing to specific bones on a skeleton, drawing diagrams, or building molecules. The program also gathers and compiles data based on the performance of test takers. This information can then be used to refine teaching skills and see where lectures are lacking. Lead Developer Hayden Lee summarizes the company’s approach by saying, “We’re getting rid of the fluff and actually interacting with the content.”
Before coming to TechPad in August Braden was working on his startup from his bedroom. Since then he has realized the benefits of coworking and seen the vital role that it can play in growing a business and a community. “You can incubate, get ideas going, and then eventually once you need more space you can launch out into the community where you will actually be driving the local economy”.
Pivotal Testing is one of seven Blacksburg based companies that competed in Distilled Intelligence 2.0. One hundred startups pitched their ideas in hopes of winning investment money from Fortify V.C., a venture capital company co-founded by Hokie alum Jonathan Perrelli. Their presence in the competition makes it clear that entrepreneurship is on the rise in Blacksburg. And with all seven companies having worked out of TechPad our hope is that like Braden other members of the Blacksburg community will consider TechPad to be, “that single location where you know entrepreneurs gather”