Newsmakers 2013: Entrepreneur champions education with Classana, TEDxToledoWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Local entrepreneur Will Lucas was the brains behind several big projects in 2013, including educational resource website Classana, which launched in January, and TEDxToledo, an annual speakers series held in September that sold out for the second consecutive year.
TEDxToledo featured 23 speakers on topics ranging from art, music, science, business, politics and more.
“The thing that’s so unique about TEDxToledo is the diversity you’ll get when you’re in the room,” Lucas said. “Where else can you go and see a CEO sitting next to a farmer, or a physicist sitting next to an artist and all are having the same conversation — how to move our city forward? It’s a remarkable experience.
“The feedback we continue to get from attendees is consistent or better than what we got with the first event we produced in 2012,” Lucas said. “We get rave reviews on our speaker quality, and someone told me they were impressed that we were able to continue to build upon that lineup of truly engaging speakers. Toledo is so full of compelling stories, talent, and passions that the folks we have here who are out there making life happen for themselves and others make my curation job easy.”
Planning is already underway for the third TEDxToledo, to be held in September 2014.
“Toledo has been very welcoming of TEDxToledo,” Lucas said. “I’m humbled to be the curator of such an in-demand series.”
2014 will also be a big year for Lucas’ education startup Classana, which offers users personalized suggestions for online educational activities.
“There’s people creating all these fantastic online learning resources, but there’s nowhere you can go online that you can be presented with these options based particularly and specifically on your interests,” Lucas said.
“A lot of this stuff is already on Google, but I have to know to search for it on Google. What if I don’t know that it even exists? Classana, because it knows who I am and what I’m already interested in, it knows to present me with these things and I don’t have to go searching for them.
“We launched an early beta version of the site a few months ago and will be resetting with a faster and all-around better upgrade of the site and mobile experience in early 2014,” Lucas said. “Our mission is to help people find their way and we accomplish that by organizing the world’s learning resources.
“This is no easy undertaking, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and the future looks so amazingly bright. It’s going to be exciting stuff and I can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on.”