Pronita Mehrotra has a plan to help children stay a step or two in front of the machines and robots in the wings, ready to make people old in a number of ways.
Will enable them to innovate.
Mehrotra is the founder and CEO of MindAntix, an educational company based in Redmond, east of Seattle.
"Technology is attacking us towards a future that will be very different from what we grew up in. Unfortunately, we do not promise our youth to be successful in the new era," she said. "The skills that have made people successful so far may not be enough."
Six years ago, Mehrotra launched the MindAntix site and developed a curriculum and online activities that help children learn and learn.
Classes are aimed at fifth and fifth grade students. The MindAntix program is designed for teachers to use, and Mehrotra has worked primarily with local private schools to test and improve the exercises. So far, the company is working on beta development, but plans to make its products more widely available in 2019.
"My journey began to be an advocate of creative thinking by accident," Mehrotra said. She was volunteering for the post-school program called "Imagination at the Destination" at her daughter's school, which was supposed to teach Creative Problem Solving.
"Over time I began to realize that the ideas that the team was going to get out of were not all that original," she said. Children did not explore enough ideas or try different ways of solving problems. Although the program gave them a chance to be creative, it did not really teach them how to be creative. "
I think Mehrotra could do better. I worked as an engineer and software engineer at Microsoft for six years, and previously as an engineer at Microsoft Microelectronics Center in North Carolina Research and Development Institute (MCNC-RDI).
MindAntix teaches children brain science to help them understand that creativity is a cognitive skill they can learn. And gives them tools to address open problems with flexible thinking. The platform is available for $ 20 per month per semester, or about $ 100 per year.
Mehrotra has not done research to test the effectiveness of her program, but she sees improvement sequentially. Some students have entered and won prizes for creative testing competitions.
"Her long-term vision is to learn to be creative," said Mehrotra. "It will be as easy and natural as learning any other skill like football and piano." We met for this Startup Spotlight, one of the usual GeekWire features. Continue reading about our answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so that our parents can understand: At MindAntix, we teach children how to think smarter – creatively and critically – so they can solve the biggest problems.
Inspiration hit us when: We realized how important cognitive creativity is in solving complex problems. In fact, most advances in science, mathematics and technology can be traced back to a form of creative thinking. Unfortunately, not much education and programs offer students such cognitive thinking. In some cases, students' creativity may be stifled.
VC, Angel, or Bootstrap: Boot. When I started, I wanted to use the time to get creative, since it was not a very simple space. Now that we have grown from the simple games we started to large project-based units operating in different locations, we will shift our focus towards expansion and begin exploring additional funding.
Our secret sauce is: Experience and experiment with new things each time we run the program. These repetitions have helped us to understand what works well and what does not, and how to effectively and creatively integrate creativity into engaging students.
The smartest move we've made so far: Is a transition to project-based learning and core curriculum areas. We initially started with fun, short games of mind, where each category of mental competitions focused on a specific creative thinking. Although this was useful in teaching basic creative thinking techniques, we found that it was more effective when students could also apply these techniques to projects. We have seen students get annoyed by uncomplicated questions until they are able to come up with different ideas and even win prizes through the "How to be an inventor" program. We are now trying to do the same in a science program for middle school students where we want to make creativity and thinking central, which is often lost in the traditional scientific method.
We are beginning to see teachers' interest on how to integrate creativity into their classrooms. We recently spoke at an educational conference and the enthusiasm and attention of the teachers was really heartening.
The biggest mistake we've made so far: Risk aversion at first. In hindsight, we could have experimented with some things earlier and soon learned.
Any entrepreneur or executive you want to work in your business corner? Melinda Gates. She is a truly intelligent person and led the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation early on. But more importantly, she has her head and heart in the right place. It addresses some of the difficult problems that certainly deserve to be solved. These are complex types of challenges that require multiple different approaches and innovative solutions.
Our favorite team building activity is: Walking discussions! We are lucky to be close to the nature lane and end up walking to think aloud that we do not get that much time to talk at other times.
What is the only advice you give to other entrepreneurs who just started: Focus on the problem you are solving and why you solve it. This will eventually result in your star being in many positions.