“She’s been tremendous for me,” Seward says of Koors, “showing me how to be a leader and the head of a company.”
The UC Venture Lab at 1819 has since facilitated $275,000 in additional State of Ohio and UC funding (via Ohio Third Frontier, a state development agency).
Jason Heikenfeld, assistant vice president for commercialization at UC, says Seward has been a great model for how UC faculty, staff and students can bring their startup concepts to life.
“Entrepreneurial success at UC happens when innovation, downright determination, and critical startup resources all collide," Heikenfeld says. "Reneé brought the former two to the 1819 Venture Lab, where UC connected the latter, and when that happened, this opportunity absolutely caught fire.”
Today the See Word app is still being tested at Mount Washington, which Seward refers to as her “ride-or-die school.” Instructors like preschool teacher Ebonne Torain appreciate how engaging the tool is.
“I like that the See Word Reading app is interactive,” she says. “It is more than just watching something on the screen. It requires they speak the sounds, trace letters and find the sound combinations in the stories. It forces them to pay attention to what is happening on the screen.”
Elsewhere, See Word is being tested in the local Princeton city schools, Cincinnati Preparatory Academy, the YMCA, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Beech Acres Parenting Center. But it’s not just in the Cincinnati area — children on the other side of the world are using the app in Singapore.
Beth O’Brien from the original See Word team left UC in 2012 for the National Institute of Education in Singapore, but continued her work on the project. She introduced the app to Singapore’s prime minister of education, who helped the team refine it so it would work for bilingual children there, making See Word an international effort. See Word Reading is now in a three-year pilot program in five elementary schools there.