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Elijah Stambaugh of the Learning Egg

Meet Elijah Stambaugh, a teacher and founder of The Learning Egg. His first product, The Lightning Grader, creates tests and automates the grading and assessment process for teachers.
What is The Learning Egg?

The Learning Egg is the company that created The Lightning Grader, a 21st Century web-based application that produces rapid assessment results and robust reports for monitoring the progress of students, classrooms, schools, districts, and educational organizations.
Why did you start your business?

I believe that in 2002, when I was finishing my bachelor's degree in theology, God called me into education. I pursued my teaching degree, and started my business after realizing my need wasn’t being filled. There were no good, low-cost, low-operational impact assessment tools that would allow me to quickly gain insight into a student’s learning so I could teach better.

How did you come up with the idea?

I looked for ways to help me help the students, and I found I spent a lot of my time in assessment. That's when I started to think about what could help me to be more efficient and understand what students know at a deeper level. Even though there's been many technological advances in education, grading is still done mainly by hand. I thought, “Why can’t a software application do that for me and automate the process?” That was the birth of the Lightning Grader.

What resources or organizations in Ohio could you take advantage of, and how did they help?

I've been working with the Small Business Development Center, Youngstown State University, the Youngstown Business Incubator, the city of Youngstown, Lorain County community college/GLIDE/Innovation fund, and Jumpstart Entrepreneurial Network. They've helped with money, mentoring, interns and support.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?

The biggest surprise is probably been the sheer number of hours that I have to put in to accomplish this goal. The work is taking considerably more than I anticipated, not only just more money, time, and energy but a certain level of emotional expense. 

Where did you find your first employee?

From Youngstown State University looking for interns.

What are some of the advantages to doing business in Youngstown?

The City of Youngstown provided us with space at a decent price. Youngstown Business Incubator helps us with different resources. Having Youngstown State University nearby provides many resources, and the Small Business Development Center is on YSU’s campus so they’ve provided us with Interns and Focus Groups at the new Williamson College of Business. There are also some successful individuals that give back such as Wayland Russell and Lee Hartman who are Christian businessmen that have contributed to our understanding of business professionally and ethically.

What inspires you?

The Westminster Catechism says, “What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." My inspiration comes from God to glorify Him. My family inspires me because I know that they're counting on me. Believing I was called into education, I believe strongly (and am seeing from our current users) that Lightning Grader is going to change the way that teachers teach, which is literally going to impact student achievement. This is what I am most excited about.

What companies founders do you admire and why?

I admire the founder of Rainbow Rentals, Wayland Russell. He has conducted his business in such a way that he has honored those whom he’s worked with and those that have worked for him. I would like to emulate those characteristics. I learned from Eric Reis and the Lean Startup, 37 signals and other business practices related to software development. I also admire some of the gentleman that are actually on my team as well.

What's next for you and your company?

We have just entered into the market. We have had a good response from schools whether it is districts, principals, or teachers. We are currently working on some very interesting partnerships which will make the assessment process even more efficient and more specific.

Source: Elijah Stambaugh
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

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