Q&A with Harsh Patel, Founder of MakerSquare
We had the chance to check in with Harsh Patel, the founder and Education Architect at MakerSquare. MakerSquare helps people become web developers and giving people opportunities to change careers.
ETT: What’s your elevator pitch?
HP: Come learn web development in 10 immersive weeks. It will be a life-changing experience, you’ll learn more than you could ever imagine, and you’ll be in the company of amazing and talented people. We’ll help you find an internship, apprenticeship, or full-time job afterwards too.
ETT: What is your company’s core value proposition? What problem are you solving?
HP: There’s a massive developer shortage, and no way for people to learn other than attending a 4 year college to get a Computer Science degree, or learning on your own. We’re filling that gap and giving people the opportunity to change careers without breaking the bank for a 4 year college degree and sacrificing many years to go back to undergrad.
ETT: Why did you get into this? What drove you to start this?
HP: I’m a former middle school teacher that learned a whole lot about what it takes to create a healthy learning environment, strong project based curriculum, and meaningful coursework. I saw that many of these best-practices were missing in traditional Computer Science education , and that there just isn’t enough access for people to attain programming literacy post-college, so I decided to do something about it.
ETT: What is the biggest need for your startup? (e.g. funding, development, market access, channels, publicity)
HP: We’re always hiring for additional instructors and developers, and could always use more outlet channels to tell the stories that are coming out of our class. For example, we have a brother duo in our course, a husband/wife combo, the youngest student is 22 and oldest is in their 50s, and our guy/girl ratio for our programming course is 50/50. We would definitely love for people to know about these stories, so could use some publicity to get the word out.
ETT: What should we expect to see from you in the next twelve months? (e.g. product milestones, team size, potential growth/revenue targets)
HP: Wow. 12 months. That’s a long time. You can expect a ridiculously amazing immersive Web Development course, an equally amazing iOS development course, and potentially an on-line product! 😉 But keep that under wraps.
ETT: If you could provide students nationwide with one education technology product, what would it be?
HP: A good way for them to learn programming.
ETT: What do you think are the biggest obstacles in adopting technology in the education space?
Sales. It’s an enterprise sales model, which is tough for start-ups to penetrate. There’s a lot for EdTech startups to learn from how Salesforce was able to get into the enterprise market as a startup. There’s also a lot of noise for teachers and principals when it comes to EdTech products, so they’ve developed a level of distrust in trying something new.
ETT: Name three companies to watch in the next 12 months.
ETT: What is the biggest trend in education technology that we should be watching?
HP: Self-paced project based learning.
ETT: Where do you see education technology going in the next 5 years?
HP: Sigh. This question is depressing, motivating, inspiring, and everything in between. It could go nowhere. It could go backwards, or it could displace the traditional school model. The important thing that many people oftentimes forget is that school plays two roles, one to educate kids, and the other to give parents a chance to work and provide for their family while having their kids do something productive with someone else watching over them. I’m being straightforward, because oftentimes the unspoken reality is that school is indeed a type of day-care for kids. A necessary one too. So the brick and mortar school model likely isnt going anywhere anytime soon, so we can expect the EdTech that makes the brick and mortar experience better will be the EdTech that gets implemented and used. So look out for tech solutions that make the brick and mortar experience better for teachers and students (at least in K-8).
EdTech Times thanks Mr. Harsh Patel for sitting down with us and suggests you check out MakerSquare at:
Yevgeny Ioffe, or as people call him, Yev, has been working in both the startup world and established companies. His career spans from joining Xplana Learning as it launched to Cengage Learning to MBS Direct when it acquired Xplana in 2009. Yevgeny brings to EdTech Times his passion for start-ups and technology, along with his interest in the ever evolving world of edtech. Yevgeny obtained his BSc and MA from Brandeis University and MBA from Boston College.