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  • Writer's pictureJolie Radunich

4 ways my little brother inspired me to enter the business of making tech for kids

My edtech origin story begins during the pandemic.

I was whisked from a college dorm to my childhood bedroom. After some glimpses of my little brother adjusting to 5th-grade Zoom school, I knew I wanted to help him avoid the upcoming summer + COVID slide.

So I made him a summer school schedule. Each content area was matched with an edtech practice platform. (Some were the same companies that helped me when I was his age!)

One schedule turned into about a dozen more for families in my hometown of San Francisco which turned into a domino effect:

  • changing my college major that fall

  • budding interest in spreading the word about edtech products

  • entering the edtech industry after graduation

My little brother started all of this. Here's how he impacted the career path I chose.

My investment in his success scaled to other kids

I put this challenge on myself: My brother was going to avoid the combined summer + COVID slide. No matter what. I was ready to get scrappy and test out different strategies to get:

  • him interested in learning and studying on his own

  • the best results

This unconditional interest in my brother's success scaled.

Not long into making his summer schedule, I thought about kids whose parents didn't have the bandwidth to do the same for them during that wild summer. I partnered with my local San Francisco Public Library and worked with 12 families to offer their children personalized summer schedules as well.

Talking with parents felt rewarding. Getting feedback on the platforms kids enjoyed motivated me to reach out to more families.

I got a first-hand look at 5th-grade virtual learning

I didn't love seeing my brother working out of an Elon Musk-style bedroom/ office. Besides the cramped, makeshift classroom he was also going without:

  • hands-on teacher instruction

  • in-person social interaction with classmates

Seeing this learning environment first-hand got my brain thinking about the possible ways to optimize virtual learning, socializing, SEL, etc. We can see by the rise of edtech in 2020 that many folks beat me to the punch.

Still, I knew there would be future companies to build and more work to be done. The allure of these undefined possibilities was something I wanted to become a part of.

My relationship granted access to unfiltered feedback

I have a close relationship with my brother. It wasn't hard to see and hear how virtual school made him feel.

No political correctness. If one of his virtual classes or assignments wasn't going well, I knew it.

There's a difference between a kid telling you they "aren't a fan" of an experience and flat-out saying, "I hate this." I'm sure his youth also made him susceptible to honesty.

This unfiltered, raw feedback helped me empathize with all the other elementary-age kids who were trying to make the same adjustment.

I was also a student at the time. But working out of your bedroom for 8 hours a day when you're 20 is different than it is for someone nearly half that age.

I have more appreciation for the platforms that helped me learn

To get my brother in summer school shape, it felt natural to start off by recommending platforms that helped me learn back in my elementary school days. Here's what the platforms I chose have in common:

  • geared toward independent practice

  • easy for kids to log on and access

  • UX/UI designs really put kids first

Deciding what platforms to assign to him allowed me to go back in time and analyze how my opinions and feelings toward these products have changed over time.


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