Why Our Work With Agastya Gives Us All the Feels
Over the weekend our partner in India, nonprofit Agastya.org, began piloting Hello PLATO’s MVP with kids all across the country. These kids are living in rural areas in and around the “Tier 2 and 3” cities in India, where wifi is rarely available. They don’t have access to online learning at home due to this lack of bandwidth, but they do have access to cell phones and mobile data. What’s more, they’re comfortable using Whatsapp.
Research shows that this conversational method of learning is simple and clean, works well, and is appreciated by students.
But it isn’t the kind of thing you’d expect to make you choked up. Except it did. When the usage started to spike and tens of thousands of messages (30k/day and rising) were successfully passing between our bot, PLATO, and those students, my co-founder and Chief Product Officer Julie messaged me, giddy with excitement. It was WORKING! Our dream of making online learning ACCESSIBLE to all of those kids was working.
I have to admit that I teared up. And I know (even though it was just through messaging) that she did too. I congratulated our hardworking CTO and development team, who toiled through the Memorial Day weekend to make sure everything was working. We found some kinks (of course) that we were able to fix. Meanwhile, the learning continued…and continued…and it’s still happening. And the entire team came through with the same response – THIS is why we do what we do.
THIS IS A COMPLETELY BINARY IMPACT
Before Hello PLATO: Learning online not possible for these kids. Learning data not going to teachers.
After Hello PLATO: Learning online with AI to personalize it, now possible for these kids. Learning data now going to teachers.
The Dream of Doing Something that MATTERS
Most of us working in the technology space are driven by the idea of doing something that MATTERS. This is exactly what technology is supposed to do: open doors, level playing fields, foster curiosity, and drive innovation to make more of that good stuff happen for the next generation. It’s always been our team’s dream to leverage technology for good, both in terms of impact and financial return. We believe deeply in the necessity of venture capital and the finance of innovation. But making it happen is the reward.