A little over 6 years ago, Sabari Raja heard a persistent and compelling question from educators, community leaders, and industry professionals in her city. They all wanted to know how to create meaningful and accessible industry connections in the classroom. The question led Sabari and co-founder Binu Thayamkery to create Nepris, which connects professionals of all kinds with K-12 classrooms (LIVE!) - no matter where they're located. Sabari shares insights on the industry-education connection, the importance of broad career exposure for student opportunity, and how she started Nepris.
Connect with Sabari and Nepris:
Episode Chapter Guide:
0.00 - Intro to the episode
1:15 - What does Nepris look like in action?
4:03 - Bringing teachers into the development of Nepris and getting orgs connected with the classroom
10:15 - The surprising impact in elementary classrooms
13:57 - The power of exposure for student opportunity and self-efficacy
21:59 - Easy ways for teachers and schools to get started
21:04 - How UR Turn is impacting student self-efficacy and agency
26:36 - What's in it for industry?
29:38 - Biggest misconceptions for educators and industry professionals
32:19 - Sabari's passion to level the playing field through the industry-education connection
36:32 - How can others follow Sabari's entrepreneurial lead and how do we start?
40:58 - Who are you giving an A to Angie?
43:28 - Get connected with Sabari and Nepris
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Welcome to this week's episode of off the assembly line. I'm your host, Rebecca Reed, and every week I sit down for possibility sparking conversation with innovative educators and entrepreneurs who are bringing the future to education. One beautiful disruption at a time.Speaker 2:
Hey guys and welcome to the first ever episode of off the assembly line. I can not believe that we are here and I am so excited to get going with you. How do we create meaningful, relevant industry education connections and how do we do it in a way that's accessible for all students? That's what I'm digging into today was Jabri Raja , the cofounder and CEO of net breasts , which is one of the best solutions to this question that I have seen. Net Braze connects educators and learners with a network of industry professionals virtually bringing real world relevance and career exposure to all students no matter where they are. Let's get going.Speaker 3:
Sasha . Bri , welcome and thanks so much for being on the show todaySpeaker 4:
now. Thank you so much for having me, Rebecca. I really appreciate it.Speaker 3:
I am so glad to have you on. I've been so excited to speak with you about your work. And , um , I was introduced to net Bruss at the ASU GSV summit last April , uh , during a panel about career readiness and education and was immediately excited by it. I know I mentioned to you already that I think the work you're doing is meeting such an acute felt need for students, teachers and administrators, but also for companies. And so I just wanted to kind of start there and say if you were to paint a picture of what NetPlus looks like in action, how would you describe what you guys are doing?Speaker 4:
Wow. Um, so the main problem that we were trying to solve when we first started [inaudible] was , um, mainly to bridge the gap between industry and education. There are a lot of groups that were getting together across the country , um, regional regionally focused groups saying, how do we, how do we really prepare the future workforce? Right. And what is the role of industry in education? And being part of many of these conversations, it was evident to me that in every region and every state industry, keto, postsecondary intermediate is like the chamber or economic development, STEM hubs, all these stakeholders were getting together and having these wonderful conversations. But technology wasn't playing a role in connecting all the stakeholders to bring that sort of exposure and career readiness to students. Um, it was just one off programs here and there that were not scalable. So that's really what nappers um, we , we set out to do with NetPlus is to build a technology solution that sits between educators and students and industry professionals that are working for these companies and really connect all the dots with the two main purposes is to bring real world relevance and to bring career exposure to students. And we do that by connecting professionals virtually into classrooms. We work at the curriculum level and say, okay, if your a second grade teacher, you're doing your earth science unit and you're learning about, you know, you're teaching your kids about rocks and especially if this is a project based learning classroom, then how do you actually now connect this, this classroom with the geologists now bringing relevance to work to your teaching and learning in the classroom at the same time, giving students an opportunity to see a geologist , what do they look like? What do , what do the, what is a day in their work life look like? So and how does this all matter to the rocks unit that they are learning in the classroom? So, so relevance but in the process of bringing relevance, bringing career exposure . So using technology to bring all the stakeholders to one place, mainly to bring that real world relevance and exposure to students.Speaker 3:
I love that. Goodness. There's so much in there that we could of course unpack some of the things that I've read about the Genesis of net bris a , it sounds like you were involving teachers in the process even at the earliest stages. Even in the design of what you were going to be doing is, is that right? Can you talk a little bit about that?Speaker 4:
Yeah, no, absolutely. Um, you know, there's a little bit of story behind how net got started. You know, I was in the Dallas Fort worth area. I was attending a STEM education event and , uh, I am , I think I've said this in a couple of blogs or some other interviews as well, that I actually walked in late for that meeting. Right. And you know, like the worst thing that can happen when you walk in late , uh, is the speaker stops talking and say, so can you there who just walked in late come over all the way to table one? We , we have an MTC for you here . Right? So I ended up at table one and that table we had , um, you know, Ken Novak , I think he was the general manager of Texas instruments DOP. Uh, we had the CTO for a of a local, large school district. Um, we had Pam who was a , uh , a CTE educator at McKinney ISD that was also on the Dallas Fort worth area. And , uh, we had lots of great discussions about what are the barriers and connecting industry and education. Um, but when we left the room, I followed up with both Pam and Sam who was a a district leader. I went and sat in Pam's classroom four weeks and that, and I asked her, he, if you, we , we did not have a single line of code written. We did not have a product at that time. We hadn't even started with the company, but I was sitting in her classroom every day observing what she was doing. And then I asked her, so is this important for you to connect your students with industry? Why do you want to do that? What, what are some areas you would want this connection to? She mentioned one, she said, you know, this is a CTE classroom. They are working on capstone projects. You know, they have to present to industry and I'm always scrambling to go find the industry people. I don't have the time. I don't have the network, I would love it if there was a platform that I could just tell you, okay, I need like for automotive engineers to review my students project and give feedback and it just, Walla happens. Right? So, so that was her first ask. And the , the second thing I asked her, so how about bringing relevance to your , what are you teaching? What would you want to kind of bring relevance in this process? And she said, she gave me three topics. One was pneumatic devices thing , the second one was forced vectors and the third one was 10 Zile strength. And of course I had to , I nodded my head like a good student. I came home and I had to Google everything because I was like, I don't know what she's talking about. Right. So , um, but out of that, it felt like pneumatic devices was the one that made most sense to me from my two minutes of Googling. So we didn't have a single line of code at that point. We knew who's our cofounder . And I , uh , we knew this problem had to be solved, but Pam was a fullest teacher. And when she gave us these three topics and we pick pneumatic devices, we, we did some research and said, where's, where is pneumatic devices actually used in the industry? And it was aerospace and automotive. And then we didn't have a product. We didn't have a database. So this was me looking on LinkedIn for automotive engineers that I was connected to through a friend who knew a friend at general motors. I got connected to, to GM and they drove, drove to this person's house and explain the product and they fell in love and they said, yes, we want to want to be the first company to actually participate. And then the process of understanding what does the employer want and how is this going to work, you know, so, so they, even to today, that first session that general motors did , um, they did a complete virtual tour of the Arlington assembly plants showing how hundreds of pneumatic devices are used in the process of building a car. And in the process they talked about all the different careers from, from the paint shop to the manager, to the programmer, to the automotive engineer. It was just this amazing session. So once that happened, we realized this is the only way we can build product. We don't want to go into a room and assume that this is what the customers want from then on. We continue to do these sessions. And uh, I, I know, I remember the next one was with an accountant with the Richardson ISD and then , um, then we did the third one was with Corning. We , we went to Dallas ISD and asked one of the physics teachers, Hey, if you had a chance to connect with the industry, what are the topics you're teaching and where would you want to connect? And it was, I think it was total internal reflection. And I said, how is this actually applied? And we were like, Oh my gosh, this is hard, you know. So, and then from there we found somebody at Corning . So there was a lot of initially manual process , but a lot of pizza feedback sitting in classrooms asking different kinds of teachers, what, how would you connect with industry, how would you use them in your classroom? And every single feature that was that was put into the product came from feedback both from the classroom and from the employers. And I have many, many stories like that. I'll stop for now.Speaker 3:
No, that, that's great and really compelling. And I think that , um, you know, with all the stakeholders that are involved in the products and the platforms and the curriculum and the technology that eventually get into the hands of students, teachers are often , um , not involved in that process, maybe as robustly as they could be or should be. Because when it comes down to it, they're the ones that are going to make this fully effective , um, you know, for their students and really leverage the full power of whatever the solution is. So I, yeah, I really applaud you for bringing the teachers into the process early and ongoing. And I think that that's really proven to be a strength for net . BrisSpeaker 4:
no , thank you so much, Rebecca. Yeah, I cannot imagine any other way of doing it. Right.Speaker 3:
So I'm curious, you are working with students as I understand from kindergarten all the way through higher ed, is that right?Speaker 4:
Yeah, mostlyK through 12 a nd w e a re just starting to work with a group of students from community colleges, u m, and also adult education through some workforce boards. But I would say i t's still 70 to 80% K through 12. U h, we're sort of dipping our feet i n, in the, i n community college and higher ed space at this point.Speaker 3:
Hmm . What has surprised you the most, or maybe significantly about the excitement around industry connections at the elementary level? Did that come as a surprise to you orSpeaker 4:
you know , that's a great question because when we first started the company, we did not even consider elementary for as an Everest user. Right. Because we were like, business , this is complicated stuff. Why would kindergarteners and second graders, you know, want to connect with industry? Right. Um, it, they , even when we did our very first pilot with the 10 school districts within the first few months, elementary teachers were the ones who reached out and said, well , why can't we use it? Why is it only being offered to middle school and high school? And we were like, how would you use it and why? And what, what surprised me was even today, the elementary group is one of the biggest users , um, apart from , um, CTE in high school out of all or four or grade levels and groups. Uh , elementary is the biggest user. And we've always looked back and said, why, how did this happen? And I think two things, right? One, in an elementary classroom , um, lots of elementary classrooms are doing project based learning, right? Um, and they now a PBL, a good PBL unit , um, requires , um, authentic audience, right? One of the key things in a PBL unit, I think , um, was bringing authentic audience into the classroom. And most of the time teachers were not aware, are not sure how to do that. Right. And , uh , this just became such a good fit. If the , if you're a PBO classroom, it's very easy to use Naprosyn and , and uh , connect with the industry professional. You know, that rocks example I told you that that was a PBL classroom. And then at the second tactical reason why elementary teachers just, you know, really adopt this very well is I can't, I don't know if this is a real fact, but I, I think it is, I , I don't know the source of where I got this, but a lot of , um , elementary teachers have a very strong , um, ELA background. Um, and when there is, but they're also teaching math, science and everything. There's one teacher in the classroom that's teaching every subject. So, so teachers don't feel like they're experts in every subject. So the opportunity to actually bring an expert into the classroom to help them teach a topic better is more appealing to elementary teachers. Right. Um, and then the third tactical thing is that as elementary teacher, you really don't have that strict scheduling issues, right? Um, you have the whole day with the same classroom , so you can move things around the bed. Then you can bring in an industry professional when they're available. Um, as we go up, the grade level scheduling becomes a real , um, issue that we have to work towards. Right. So,Speaker 3:
yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Um, and I actually , uh , part of my professional background is in the elementary classroom and , uh, it was a career change for me, but I remember my first year being so amazed at the truth of that adage, you can't be what you can't see. And I remember just being blown away , um , by seeing that play out physically, you know, before my eyes, this, the impact that their life exposure played on their imagination and self efficacy and their dreams and their goals. And so, you know, I'd love to hear you talk a little bit about the role of exposure. Why is exposure so powerful for students and what have you seen it do for them? And even even for teachers?Speaker 4:
No, absolutely. I mean, exposure is the foundation of, of NAGPRA straight . I mean, that's why started the company. That's what we strive to do on a daily basis. There's been in the last couple of years, a whole bunch of research studies that have really come out with a very strong support for exposure. Right ? One study that I refer everyone to is call the lost time instance. Um, I w I think it was a study that came out of Stanford and I often refer to this study because we're like, how did we even start the company before this study? Because this study makes so much sense and it's so to everything that we're doing. Um, the, the one thing that , um, for the very first time the researchers there , um, took the tax data of parents , um, and correlated it to where more patents are being trialed, right? So basically they were trying to correlate , um, the parents , um, parents stacks data to where innovators are coming from. And , um, I, I'm , I wish I could show you that picture, but there is a map of the United States and it's shocking. I mean, I'm in Austin, Texas and um, it was shocking to see that most of these innovators are coming from very few parts of the West coast and a cluster. In the Northeast. Right? Um, and the conclusion they came to was they said , um, this sort of gap. It's not because of lack of academic achievement that are , you know, across the board that is academic achievement. That's not correlating to um, creating innovators. And they concluded that it's because of lack of exposure. It's because of where the students are and what kind of , uh , communities they're surrounded by and what they are exposed to at a very early age. Right? So, so this , um, this is what I think they ended up calling the opportunity gap that when when your in places that you don't have the same kind of connections and community and an exposure, then no matter how good you are academically, these kids were not, you know, bound to become innovators. So, so exposure, it kind of puts this exposure on a parallel ground with academic achievement, right? We're a society where we are so in tune with we need to get better math scores. We need to get better science scores and reading. And all of that is equally important. But what the study says is you need to put exposure right along with all of those academic achievement goals as well. Right. Otherwise we are doing a disservice to our students.Speaker 3:
Yes. And it's such a natural phenomenon. It's feels so intuitive that you think that we would all have collectively understood this and been advocating for it, you know, for the last 50 years. But , um, you know, it takes something like this kind of research to really prove out what we're seeing on a daily basis, you know, in, in different areas. And you know, this might be a nice segue into Julia Fischer's book, who, you know, and the idea of students building social capital. Um, I know she discusses some of your work in , in the book and can you unpack this idea a little bit, the idea of students' social capital?Speaker 4:
No, I am so glad you mentioned that because I was just about to say that I can not talk about Juliet's work when talking about exposure. Right. So it's just amazing how, you know, for the past five years, Julia from the Christensen Institute , she spends , you know, she spent quite a bit of time and working with all kinds of people. And the whole book who you know, is a must read for every educator and , uh, school administrators. It's , um, I mean, I, I'm not sure if I'm going to explain all this clearly, but the way I understand it is that is a lot of research already out there that talks about weak ties and strong ties, right? So, so a weak tie connection is , um, somebody that you may have met once or you just got introduced to somebody and you talk to them for 10 minutes or five minutes. Um, uh , you met somebody at a conference and um, you, you connected with them. So these are all your weak ties, right? Traditionally, even when we talk about student connections, we have always focused on strong ties. Like to me, my strong tie would be my family, my very close friends circle , uh, probably a couple of mentors that I've had throughout my, my career. These are all my strong ties. So, even in early on when we talked about creating student connections , um, we've always taught of more stronger ties, you know, how do you give a mentor mentoring relationship where a student , somebody that they're connected to , um, for a long period of time. You know, while there is so much value in strong ties , um, the weak tie connections are the ones that actually connect you to opportunities. That's really what a lot of Julia's work is based on that particular weekday versus strong tie theory and saying, how do we expose students to hundreds of people instead of just one or two? Right. And , uh, and it doesn't take much for a student to create that spark. It doesn't take years and years of connecting, but how do you give them a wide exposure to a lot of different people and a lot of different things as, as opposed to just one deeper connection. Um, so, so she talks about both and the importance of both , um, the, the ability to build. So students , social capitalists , it's, it's, it's all boiled down to who, you know, I mean, even as adults in our career, we all understand eventually that what you know only takes you so far, but who you know is really important in Korea growth, right? Her Julia's point is that that actually has to , we need to help students understand that even earlier and , uh , in the form of more week days , um, you know, not just the strong ties. Right. Um, so that's really what , um , I mean, and then then you think about students that are in rural areas that really don't have social capital, right? So unless there is a specific focus on helping students build that within our school system, that we're not just giving them the academic content, but we are proactively working on who we are introducing students to when and how we are doing that meticulously over a period of time. Um, that's really important. That's, that's Julius point is how do you help students build that network and social capital.Speaker 3:
I love that. So beyond the connections , the micro engagements, I think you guys call them, you know, that you're providing through net risk . What are some other ways, maybe even some low hanging fruit for the educators, the administrators, the parents that are listening. What's some low hanging fruit that you've seen be actually surprisingly powerful for students?Speaker 4:
Yeah, so , um , when we first started NetPlus , we were so focused on, Hey, we started this company to make these virtual connections and that's worked . We are focused on. Um, but what we realized was , um, it was Pam who was our first teacher who said after the first session, Hey, could you guys actually record this session because I want to be able to use, continue using this content going forward and that we just started recording all of these like conversations. And , um, today we have over 10,000 , um, you know, hours of very authentic industry videos that , um, anybody can access, you know, once you, once you sign up. Um, so for, for parents , um, teachers, for students, we as of last year, we tied all these videos to the department of labor's own it jobs database. So students can actually go in and explore careers on their own and understand, you know, what kind of jobs are available and have full descriptions of these jobs. And then now, then they can go in and, and uh, pick up a few videos that are actual industry professionals that have done these live sessions to net pres that are connected to that particular job. So that's a low hanging opportunity. Like you don't have to jump in and be part of an actual life session. You can log in and have access to these thousands and thousands of videos. This is by far the largest, most authentic industry content that's available in the K to 12 space now. Um, so I would encourage people to try and do that. But again, nothing like , uh , nothing like giving students an opportunity to participate in these live sessions. So a couple of years back, as we were working with employers , um, we figured that we, we want to give employees an opportunity to initiate the topics of conversation within the platform as well. So , um, so what we call industry charts , like when you log into NetPlus and go look at industry charts, there's at any given time there , 6,200 chats, they're on different topics for different grade levels like you have at T and T actually coming in and offering , uh , mock interviews for high school students. And these are all about true mock interviews. Uh , any class can click a button and jump into join this. And then , um, then you have , um, company , I mean we, we work with the national cybersecurity , um, foundation and, and they are offering a whole bunch of topics on cybersecurity careers. Um, our , uh, Kansas city area partner, they are offering a whole Kansas area employers what they're calling the Casey college series. So it's different kinds of employers and partners that are coming in through the platform offering various topics that they know they want to see the future workforce know about and be prepared for. I mean, what better way to participate in these topics that they , employers are actually offering. Right? It's just one click of a button for any classroom to participate in that live conversation. So I would encourage the low hanging opportunities are the video library and the industry. Chad's , I didn't create everybody to check it out .Speaker 1:
We're going to take a real quick break back in just a sec. Hey guys, it's Rebecca. Over the last several years I've worked with educators across the U S who are truly doing education differently and changing the game for students. The problem I've bumped into is that truly innovative educators often feel like they're building their vision alone. They're the only ones they know who are doing things this way, but the truth is there are thousands of dynamic educators like this across the country and across the globe. I'm privileged to know an awful lot of them. What if these educators had a place to connect, really connect and step into each other's goals? Imagine finding a like-minded tribe. We're inspiration coaching, an actual collaboration or regular byproducts of every meeting. This tribe exists and it's called the teacher mastermind. If you want to know more, go to teacher mastermind.com or send me a message. When you do education differently, you often go alone. We think we're better together. And we're back. That brings up another question for me around the role of the company in the role of the industry professionals. Um , you know, for thoseSpeaker 3:
who are listening in who may not have seen an industry education connection like this before, what's in it for the companies, what's in it for and what's in it for industry?Speaker 4:
There's a lot of reasons why companies do this. Um, one the main thing is that when you look at this , um , you know, you probably seen this Rebecca, that there is a leaky pipeline, right? Like I'm a 47% of kids who drop out do so because they don't see the relevance of school. At the end of the day, if the comp , the companies are understanding that if they don't do their part in preparing the future workforce, then not enough kids are coming out of this pipeline qualified and ready to take the jobs that they have. Right? So that's kind of the high level reason why companies want to engage and be proactive. So a lot of companies that we work with, we are working with their corporate social responsibility teams or community or community engagement teams. Um, many times companies want to have deep roots in the community that they're in because their employees, our kids are going to the schools in the, in the community. So they want to develop programs and be very involved with the school district . So it's not just preparing the future work force, it's building their brand among the next generation. It's being a better company by being a better community partner. Apart from this, there is a lot of data also that shows um, combin companies are deeply involved with the community. They're giving their employees and opportunity to directly engage with the community that leads to higher retention , uh , leads to better performance. So it's part of many companies. It's part of the performance. Employee engagement is part of the performance evaluation as well. They have specific requirements for how many hours that they want their employees to engage and that's tied to their leadership goals that's tied to their performance. Um, so it's, it's most companies today understand that just being successful is not just being driven by their ROI. It's also being driven by how well they are connected with their community.Speaker 3:
Right? Yeah. I love the synergy of this space. It's, it's such an exciting , um, I think there's just such exciting possibilities and , and what, you know, the work that NetPlus is doing , um, is like, again, just meeting such a felt need for on the part of so many people. And I think the synergy is what maybe gets me the most excited about, you know, where we're going with , um, you know, industry, career education connections. But I'm curious, you know, as you've been working in the K-12Speaker 4:
space primarily for the last several years, are there any misconceptions or anxieties or fears that you've bumped into around this idea of industry connections in education? Yeah, definitely rate. Um, because the, the one thing that immediately comes to mind is the, the teachers feel that, Oh, you're bringing somebody else into the classroom to do my job. You know, I've heard this often enough, but it's easy, easy one to address though because one thing that we have to be clear about is that these nothing can replace the teacher in the classroom, right? Um, that we may bring in an industry professional to talk about the shows and proportions that does not be also make it very clear with our industry professionals. Um , on the other side, we get the same thing in a different form. They are saying, Hey, I am no expert in anything. I don't want to teach any class. Right? I'm like, okay, fine. We'll just calling you explodes because you know how this topic, you're , you're applying it in your work. Um, so both sides, we have to address this misconduct conception that you're not going into teach anything. And to the teacher that we're like, they're not coming into replace your role, you know, so have , so it's, it's more like they are here to support you and help you engage your students better. If we make, make the clear, for example, I give you this, this, this is one of my favorite examples of ratios and proportions. In sixth grade, right? So bringing an architect in to talk about ratios and proportions, they don't know how to teach that topic. The teacher has to teach that topic, right? Like when they come in, their job is to say, okay, this is a new , this is a building that I'm designing. I'm here , I have designed a few , um , stairs , set of stairs. If I don't have my ratios and proportions correct, then people are going to trip and fall. This is why ratios and proportions is important and this is how I use it in my job. You know? So once we clarify that, then everybody understands that the teacher does not have that knowledge to actually explain that to the students and the professionals feel a lot more comfortable talking about their work and how they use something in their work as opposed to saying, Hey, I don't know how to teach this. They shows and proportions lesson. You know, I think that's the number one misconception that we have to constantly , um, clarify. But it's an easy one to explain. You know, there are lots of examples like this. Once we explain it, people get it. Oh , I love that example. That's a great way to frame it. So I'd love to transition just just a little bit, maybe back to the idea of students' social capital, the idea of exposure. We can strong ties and connect that to your passion for working with girls, working with minority students and leveling the playing field. I'd love to just, you know , ask you how that plays out in your work right now and where you see some of that going. No, absolutely. I always say I'm , I'm just fortunate to have had this opportunity to have this opportunity to, to work on something like Netflix because it's a perfect way to marry my passion, my background in technology and business and connect all the dots. You know, I can't ask for anything more. Um, you know, personally and professionally. Uh, I mean, I myself, I'm sure you've read this in some of my other interviews and in my blog and stuff that, you know, for me, this is personal because I come from a very rural area , um, in South India. I grew up on a, on a coconut farm. Um, but my parents were always very, very particular about the fact that we need to get a good education. I went to boarding school at the age of five because it's the only way they could send me to a good school. Right. There was nothing close by. Um, so, so just growing up in that environment , um, it was always , um, you know, I was always like very passionate about how do I, how do, how do we level the playing field? Because I came from a rural area and I understand firsthand, especially, you know, you're born to parents who don't have college degrees. They don't have that social capital. That's one thing in Julia's work I forgot to mention is the, she talks a lot about your inherited network. You know, the inherited network is the one that you're born with, right? Especially when you come from a rural area and your parents are not from the tech industry or they don't understand any of that . That my , you know, my, my parents are farmers. So how do when , when my inherited network was so small, then how do we really get out of that and build my social capital? Right? So it's very personal for me. Um, I, for me personally, it was, I had an uncle who was, you know, in the tech industry who was very , um , experienced as an entrepreneur, very successful entrepreneur. He was from the Silicon Valley of India, which is Bangalore. And , uh , I think Julia talks about that in her book as well. So , um, he was my one person and that one spark, you know, and he had introduced me to a few things when I would go visit him. Um, and there were, there were specifically some women role models that he talked about and introduced me to those companies. This is inflammation that my parents don't have. This is a world that my parents don't know anything about. Right. So, so just coming from a very rural area and having this one experience in one person sort of, you know, give me an opportunity to sort of think about and dream of a different world. Right. That could be a possibility for me. A couple of things where somebody actually connected me to these opportunities. And then I was introduced to a particular woman role model at a very early age and , and I , I thought to myself, well , she can do it , I can do it right. And it became an aspiration and a spark that I would say it, it kind of laid the foundation for me. So in my work, I also strive to bring that, that , um , same sort of connection and role models mainly for rural students and girls because those two things apply to me personally as well. And I know what it took to sort of get, get over that or get out of that, that , um, environment in the world that , that, you know, when you were born in the too , right. So ,Speaker 3:
well , that's awesome. So I want to go back to your light bulb moment, light bulb process. Um, you know, at the very beginning of, of your development of net bris and kind of bring this back home for the educators and entrepreneurs who are listening who clearly see a gap and a possible way to fill it. What would you say to them about getting started? How can others follow your lead?Speaker 4:
Oh wow. Um , I'm still, first thing I'd say is I'm still learning and still there's many more mountains to climb, you know, but , um, we have learned a lot of good lessons in the last couple of years. Um, first of all, like think , um , having a really , um, amazing co founder who has complimentary skills, right? Um , Bino who's our cofounder , he's our CTO. Um, he , he is amazing when it comes to developing product , even understanding customers. And we work really well together. And I think that's a very important piece for any entrepreneur is not to go into this thinking I know everything and I can do everything. But to find one, one or more co founders who are complimented to your skills and , and start off with that core team who has the same risk tolerance and who has the same passion as you and who are willing to stick it out and make those sacrifices along with you. Right. Without that, we won't, we won't even get off the ground. Right. Um, that's kind of my first thing. And the second is like you both been one . I , um, the way we got started when we first released or very first platform for 10 school districts to pilot, the total amount of money we had spent was $3,000. And mostly those were legal fees. Um, it was because , um, we believe also in the lean development model, right? You don't want to spend a lot of money up front in expensive product development. Um, instead I explained earlier you work with one teacher, one classroom, understand what your minimum viable product is and go ahead and go develop that and put it back into the hands of the teacher. See how they use it. You may have to come back and completely redo it. But that sort of iterative process of working with the customers and building product , it's, it's the, it's the only way to, to, you know, build anything because you don't want to spend a lot of time and money , um, and uh , and build something massive and only then you put it out there to understand that it's really not what the , what the customers want, you know, so, so I think the , the team and then , um , having this sort of lean development mentality , um, it's, it's very important.Speaker 3:
I think there is a , there's such a parallel between entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviors and what teachers are often doing in the classroom, what innovative administrators are often doing, you know, in their schools and in their districts. And , um, I think that it's, it's a little bit of a blue ocean in understanding where those connections really lie. And I, I love that you framed it within kind of the terminology of, you know, lean startup, lean development , um, and you know, starting with the problem and really getting down to what is the thing I'm really trying to solve and then what's the quickest way that I can start to see, you know, if this idea is, is me meeting that need or filling that gap. So yeah, I think that's great.Speaker 4:
Yeah. And from a one particular example that I would like to point people to is, I'm not sure if you're familiar with the car horn Valley unified school district in San Diego. Um, I mean, yeah. And , uh, anytime you talk about educators and administrators having that entrepreneurial innovative mindset, Calhoun is the first one that comes to my mind. You know, they operate like entrepreneurs. They are very innovative and the way they've developed their world of work framework , um, it's , um, it's amazing how much traction and they built a culture of adoption within the entire school district. It's, it's , uh , it's a model that any district can follow easily , um, because they've done the hard work of tying research to it , stating the problem and to building the framework and, and engaging their entire school district to rally behind this. Right. So,Speaker 3:
well, to kind of bring us home. I'm looking at our time here and I know we've gone a little bit past what I laid out, but I , it's just been so fantastic. Um, I'm curious, one of the questions I love to close our show with is who would you say you are giving an a to these days ?Speaker 4:
I'm a , I'm tough when it comes to giving ease . You know, I don't hand them out , uh, easily. Um, my, my students would attest to that. I mean, my, my kids would attend a test to that. So , um, because we had a two sided platform, I have to pick two different stakeholders. Right. One is , um, you know, I alluded to Kohan Valley . There are so many other innovative schools like that. One of the other rural districts that we work with is Roy city ISD. Um, now I think a San Bernardino is coming on board . The , um, the , uh , the same , uh , rain Valley schools in Colorado. Um, so these kinds of innovative schools where the leadership has need commitment to changing the way that they teach and they willing to put in that extra time and effort to bring everybody else along because it's not easy to , to create that culture of , um , adoption with anything new. Um, so these, these innovative districts like a home, they deserve an a plus. Right. And on the other side , um, when it comes to employers that a lot of employers have the sort of CSR, community engagement , um, you know, in built into their programs, but companies like a T and T and Verizon and Oxnard and Louisiana, they are the ones that are going up and beyond to make this such a core part of who they are and who their employees are and making it part of their culture. Um, like ATNT has 1 million hours of employee engagement. I think that Isen has a goal of engaging , um, 80%. I may not be exactly right with this, but they have a similar goal of a , um, thousands of employees engaged , um , in the classroom by 2020 and they support around hundred. That is an innovative learning schools as well. So these employers that are sort of paving the way , um, to say, you know, it's, it's not enough if you just focus on our ROI . What are we doing to develop the future workforce ? So these, these, you know , um, two entities, I think they deserve an eight too . Wonderful. And finally, how can people get connected with you, connected with nebres and join into what you are doing? Yeah. Thank you for saying that. If you all go to [inaudible] dot com and you can go create a trial account and you'll immediately have access to everything. Um, and at any point of time, I think , uh , our Twitter handle is at Annapolis app. Um, if you tweet us, you can find us on Facebook. You can find us on LinkedIn. Um, my email ID is email@example.com S a B a R I at [inaudible] dot com. I'm always open and always excited to hear from , um, you know, both industry and from educators. So feel free to contact us. Sabrina, thank you so much for your time today. It's been so great to have you on and thank you for the work that you're doing now. Thank you Rebecca for giving me this opportunity. You know, sometimes it is so head down and in doing what we do it's always great to sort of have these opportunities to look at the big picture and explain where we started, how we came to be and what's next. It's exciting to have these conversations and thank you for doing what you do.Speaker 1:
We made it. Thanks so much for joining me on this first ever episode of off the assembly line. [inaudible] information and the different resources we mentioned are all linked in the show notes and you can get firstname.lastname@example.org if you liked what you heard, by all means rate and review and hit that subscribe button to keep them coming. You can connect with email@example.com or find me on LinkedIn. Now get out there and make a ruckusSpeaker 2: