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During the pandemic, parents with children who were tied to home study had to look for new activities to do hands-on learning to move the hands lost in virtual lessons. New York-based Edtech startup Thimble addresses this issue with a subscription kit for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning. Children who participate in this can learn using the project training kits such as robots and electronic circuits that are sent to them, and can also take live online lessons.
Thimble started in 2016 as a Kickstarter project. At that time, the robotics and programming kit for STEM education was successfully raised $ 300,000 in 45 days. The following year, the kit was launched primarily for schools in New York and was used in classes and after-school extracurricular activities. Years later, Thimble has expanded its customer base to approximately 250 schools in New York, Pennsylvania, and California, selling kits and providing training for teachers.
However, the COID-19 (new coronavirus) pandemic changed the direction of Thimble’s business.
“Many schools were in panic mode. I wasn’t sure what was going on, so my budget was frozen for a while,” said Thimble co-founder and CEO Oscar Pedroso. .. He is from an educational field. “Even where we consider our top customers, they say,’No, that’s not the case right now. It’s likely to close the school.'”
Pedroso realized that he should immediately change direction to sell directly to parents of children rather than to schools.
Around April, the company made the switch. In essence, this is the first time we have entered the B2C market.
The company is currently offering subscription-based services to parents. It includes 15 STEM project learning kits and a curriculum such as live lessons by educators. One kit will be sent over three months, but there are also quick programs available sooner.
The first kit is the basics of electronics that teaches children how to make simple electronic circuits such as doorbells, kitchen timers, and composition tools. The kit is designed to give you an “immediate success” experience to keep your children interested and motivated to do more.That’s a Wi-Fi robot, a small drone, a glowing LED compass
, Will lead to future advanced kits such as synthesizers that allow you to play DJ yourself.
These kits, which help children learn hands-on electronics and robotics, can be used in any home, but about 70% of subscribers say they have children who are already accustomed to working with robots and electronic circuits. Pedroso speaks. The remaining 30 percent are families who want to use it to teach their children the concepts of robotics and electronics and see if they are interested. In addition, about 40% of users are girls.
A monthly subscription of $ 59.99 (about 6200 yen) is more expensive than doing DIY work individually ($ 47.99 per month for a one-year contract: about 5000 yen), but one hour of live lessons every week using Zoom It is also because it contains. Thimble is not only an expert in teaching projects, but also passionate and energetic, offering children-attractive lessons as soon as they find out that they are having problems or are frustrated. There are part-time teachers. Two of the five teachers are women. There is also one instructor who speaks two languages and can teach in Spanish.
During the lesson, one instructor teaches how to proceed with the project, while another instructor is in charge of the chat room and responds to individual questions from children regarding the lesson.
One live lesson is for 15 to 20 children, but packages for smaller groups are also available. It is used by groups such as homeschooling “pods.”
“We’ve started hearing from pods and from microschools,” says Pedroso. “There, connected parents want their children to learn in the same class, and those groups generally require more intimate lessons and customization,” he says.
The corresponding subscription will be as high as $ 270 per month, but the cost per household will be lower because the parents of the group can split it in half. Most of the customer base is individual homes, but about 10 percent of the total use this plan.
Thimble is also working with some market communities and nonprofits to help reduce subscription costs by funding children. These opportunities will be announced through schools, newsletters and other promotional methods when they become available.
Since turning to subscription, Thimble has restructured its customer base and now has 1110 paying customers. But Thimble needs to scale up, as some continue to be priced at the initial level.
In addition to Kickstarter, Thimble raised money that year with the help of several accelerators, including LearnLaunch in Boston, Halcyon in Washington, DC, and Telluride Venture Accelerator in Colorado.
The startup, co-founded with Joel Cilli of Pittsburgh, is currently raising about 60 percent in a $ 1 million seed round. Not revealed.
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life’s biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.