My K-12 Advisor: Connecting Schools with the Companies Who Serve Them

Originally born and raised in Mexico, Carlos Bortoni attended Harvard University and then moved to Washington, DC to work in consulting. He eventually joined a market research firm to help them launch a practice focused on serving independent K-12 schools. “As someone who had always been interested in education issues, at age 25, this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up!” Carlos says. 

During his tenure at his firm, Carlos engaged hundreds of education leaders across both public and private schools and led the U.S. Delegation’s efforts on education at the Y20 Summit in Istanbul. After helping build a successful education practice from the ground up, Carlos was ready to take his career to the next level, and he moved to Charlottesville to pursue a joint MBA/M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from UVA’s Darden School of Business and the Curry School of Education, graduating in May 2019.

Throughout his interactions with school leaders and staff prior to his MBA, it became apparent to Carlos that both public and private schools struggle with finding the right vendor for a wide range of goods and services (e.g. consulting, materials, EdTech, training, etc.) Similarly, vendors often lack the bandwidth or insight to pursue partnership opportunities for their business. From these two data points, the idea for My K-12 Advisor (My K-12), Carlos’s venture at the UVA i.Lab, was born.

My K-12 is a platform that connects schools to service providers to find each other, connect, and do business. “The idea is to create a more transparent ecosystem in education,” Carlos says. The platform helps schools be strategic and efficient with their money, engage with peer-reviewed vendors, and make better decisions for their constituents.

Carlos describes My K-12 Advisor as a combination of Yelp meets Angie's List, but for education procurement. While other services provide bits and pieces of what My K-12 offers, none provides a full-scale solution. "I think that one of the interesting things about My K-12 Advisor," Carlos explains, "is recognizing that with so many different moving pieces, the platform allows stakeholders to come together in a one-stop-shop."  

In addition, over the course of the i.Lab Carlos has focused on developing a way to bring some of the things he learned in business school, like effectuation and design thinking, to the classroom with high school students. “It's one more service that schools can have,” Carlos elaborates, “and if you’re looking at curriculum, textbooks, and professional development, especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is a strong appetite for fostering entrepreneurship and critical thinking in high school.” The first pilot for the workshop started in July and more sessions will be rolled out in the fall.

Carlos sees effectuation and design thinking as valuable tools that should be made available to both public and private schools. “They’re equalizing tools that give students more agency. There’s no reason why kids should not have this exposure in high school or middle school or have to wait until college to learn these concepts.”

Carlos Bortoni, founder of My K-12 Advisor.

Carlos Bortoni, founder of My K-12 Advisor.

“At a macro-scale, I believe that My K-12 Advisor has potential to make it easier for schools to improve purchasing decisions and redirect those savings back into their mission: providing the best learning experience to their students. At a micro-scale, the entrepreneurship workshop for students is a great way to meet a growing demand for more tools to inspire young minds. I, for one, would have loved to learn this back when I was growing up in Mexico.”