An Indian American technology professional, Avneesh Kumar, while sending his son to preschool in 2014 realized a disconnect with teachers and parents.
That experience, he said, led to the inspiration behind the Web platform and app Schoolze.
Kumar, 39, is a tech entrepreneur from Pacific Grove, Calif., and used his experience with his then 5-year-old son to create Schoolze to better implement parent engagement for a better success rate for students.
“Mostly, students and school outcomes today are measured based on test scores and grades which are in turn based on fact-based learning and memory recall ability,” Kumar explained to India-West. “We believe that higher student success and outcomes depend on surrounding factors such as parental engagement, classroom effectiveness and availability of funds for schools.”
Schoolze uses advanced technology to build and measure factors that increase student outcomes, he said.
Kumar, a graduate of G.B. Pant University College of Technology in Uttarakhand, India, immigrated to the United States in 2004 and moved to the Monterey Peninsula in 2009. He quit his job as a client services director at ValueMomentum Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif., in early 2015 to focus entirely on Schoolze, which was initially targeted at schools in Pacific Grove.
The co-founder added that the platform really took off after he brought on colleague Nirmal Kannan, a programmer and technologist, in July 2015. Kannan, a co-founder, serves as the company’s technology head.
The company continued to grow organically, Kumar said, adding that the company’s research into parental engagement and the Federal Department of Education’s insights on the topic “led us to believe that we are on to something huge which can have a profound impact on student outcomes if executed correctly.”
The platform has become a context-based school success platform which measures and manages parameters that build school and classroom environment geared for higher student outcomes.
Additionally, the company makes money for schools and pays for itself which, Kumar told India-West, “makes it special for schools.”
On top of what Schoolze already does, it is starting investment in the professional development area for teachers with the inclusion of training in empathy, mindfulness, growth mindset and digital leadership to build effective teachers in the classroom, Kumar, who is also the CEO, said.
Kumar noted that the people who most benefit from the platform, which is available for download on Apple and Android devices, as well as on the web at www.schoolze.com, are teachers, parents, school leadership and school parent institutions.
The app, Kumar noted, is based on decades of research from the FDE and other educational institutions. While other platforms directly relate to learning, Schoolze is more focused on measuring and fixing ambiance and surroundings that induce learning.
Additionally, another benefit of the app, according to Kumar, is that it makes money for schools, “which is awesome for schools as almost all schools can get additional funds.”
The app, since being established more than two years ago, has grown, but Kumar still has hopes for more.
“Our short-term goal is to help as many private and public pre-K to 12 schools in the U.S. to build and measure family-community engagement and other success factors in real time,” Kumar explained to India-West. “We also aspire to educate teachers about the importance of empathy and mindfulness in classrooms.”
Looking at a 10-year plan, the goal is for Schoolze to be the platform that turns a failing school into a successful one, “regardless of human and financial factors.”
“On the side, we are conceptualizing a transformative advocacy product which can work side-by-side with Schoolze and fix the deeper educational problem, such as the opportunity gap and the achievement gap,” Kumar said of the company’s additional future plans.
Schoolze isn’t Kumar’s first foray as an entrepreneur. He launched his first startup in 2000 while in Mumbai, called Helloprojects.com. That startup, which came before the advent of social media, could have become a modern day UpWork or Elance, he said.
He has also worked in technology-based positions for DishnetDSL Ltd., Kuokoa Networks and ICICI Infotech before moving to the U.S. for a job at Wipro Technologies.
But in terms of what’s important, Kumar believes Schoolze is a winner of a company, not for just him, but for all people involved in the early education process.
“Education is the most important domain for us to innovate to get a better educated next generation,” he said. “These are exciting times when technology can drive a car autonomously and send rovers to Mars. We must use these very technologies and pair them with research-based educational practices to get next level schools.”