Strive is an online learning platform that teaches kids to code, but it wants to do more. Built with an active learning model that keeps students at the forefront of classrooms, Stiriv seeks to instill in them a lifelong love of STEM subjects.
The Singapore-based startup today announced a $1.3 million seed round led by Y Combinator (an accelerator program) from Soma Capital, Goodwater Capital and the likes of Crimson Education CEO Jamie Beaton, co-founder of Westbridge Capital and co-founder of Sequoia India KP Balaraja. Member, and Class Co-Founder and former CTO Calvin French-Owen.
Strive, which provides one-on-one tutoring for children ages 8 to 16, plans to expand across Asia, targeting the 3.7 million students in international schools.
In the year Founded in 2020 by Tamir Shiklaz and Pulkit Agarwal, Strive was built on the idea that AI automation and technological advances mean that everything you learn may be obsolete in a few years.
“The most important skill we can give kids or anyone else is learning how to adapt,” Shiklaz said. “If you want to motivate traditional students, learning has to be fun.” Learning should be fun. So we began our dedication to empowering children to thrive in the 21st century by preventing them from failing in the learning process.
What sets Strive apart from other online coding learning platforms for kids? Shiklaz said Strive’s goal is to create a more effective and engaging learning experience than its competitors.
“We have really amazing teachers, but we don’t hire teachers based on their technical skills,” he said. “Of course they need to be able to teach coding, but what’s most important is their ability to empathize and empathize with the student.”
Classes are “highly-personalized” so students can choose the projects they want to work on—for example, they can code games like Pong, a math puzzle, or a physics simulation. Projects have visibility and instant feedback. After a student solves a problem and completes a new line of code, they immediately see the results on their screen. “We’re using circles, colors and movement, and that’s what makes it so engaging for kids.”
Agarwal says that although many parents and education systems have begun to emphasize coding, their teaching methods often leave children feeling disconnected and frustrated. “Most of the time, the students are introduced to coding and then they get lost from it. You come to the wrong conclusion that coding is too hard, that coding is dry, or that coding is just not for me.
Active learning means that instead of teaching students in a classroom, teachers ask them questions and guide them through coding exercises, allowing them to take the lead.
Agarwal gave me a short sample lesson, which was an interesting experience for me because I had never learned to code, so I started at the same level as the kids he was teaching (even lower, to be honest).
First Agarwal asked me if I was interested in studying average. I said no, so he asked me if I wanted to draw art instead, and I did. He walked me through the code step by step with a gridded art sketchbook, but I was running the class, choosing the effect I wanted, such as making the scrapbook background a color I liked.
Instead of telling me what to do, Agarwal asked me to change a number, and asked if I thought that action worked (he moved the point to the corresponding number on the grid). Finally, I was able to draw shapes with the dot using my marker and coded my first drawing board. I don’t think I described the experience very well, but it was interesting to discover what happened every time I entered new code. The course was engaging, and something I would consider enrolling my daughter in once she is older.
Strive had 16 students when it started, and every day Shiklaz and Agarwal spend six hours teaching them to try different content and levels. Strive employees, including the founders, still have to teach at least one student. For example, Strive’s head of operations doesn’t know how to code, but she’s taking coding lessons with her teachers to prepare her to take on a student.
One of the challenges Strive will face as it executes its growth strategy is the scalability of the model. Shiklaz said they have two solutions. One is gradually increasing the number of students in a classroom from one to one to four. Second, Strove employs many university students who study coding, so it has many teachers. Shiklaz Stiriv said that the training process and infrastructure will be created so that the quality of teaching remains consistent.
Strive’s current customer acquisition strategy is primarily word-of-mouth referrals from children and their parents. Part of the new funding will be used to develop the code editor, adding additional concepts and curriculum that are personalized to different children’s needs.
Teaching kids how to code is “one of the desired outcomes, which is to be able to think and solve problems and code in the same way that they develop language fluency,” Shiklaz said. “But the most important thing is self-confidence and the joy of learning.”