Thursday, June 27, 2013

Start-Up Co-Founded by CS Ph.D. Students Featured in Forbes

"A Star is Born at the Googleplex:" that was the headline on a story on the Forbes website highlighting computer science Ph.D. student Sarah Esper and ThoughtSTEM, the start-up she co-founded. 

Esper recently took part in a pitch contest at the LATISM/Latino2 event at the Google Ventures Startup Lab in Mountain View. ThoughtSTEM went on to win the top award for start-ups at the event, bringing home $10,000.

Incidentally, the LATISM/Latino2 event was organized by Jennifer Arguello, a Jacobs School cS alumni and member of the CSE Alumni Board.

Students in the ThoughtSTEM program start at the same level as UC San Diego freshmen majoring in computer science, Esper said in a story that profiled her start-up, which she co-founded with fellow CS Ph.D. student Stephen Foster and biochemistry Ph.D. student Lindsey Handley. If they enroll in ThoughtSTEM in middle school and continue until they graduate high school, children can be reach the same level as students graduating from UC San Diego with a major in computer science.
Students learn mostly from hands-on tasks and are paired with UC San Diego computer science graduate and undergraduate students, who mentor them and help them master programming skills.

That's what caught the eye of Giovanni Rodriguez, who wrote the Forbes story and is an entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of SocialxDesign, a new tech consulting company. 

"What I like most about this is ThoughtSTEM’s focus on the offline experience. Unlike most tech ventures that get an audience in Silicon Valley, ThoughtSTEM is bullish on the immersive experience that can only happen face-to-face.  But they are betting that online tech can supplement the experience, and give them greater reach.  A technology platform is in the works, and when Esper spoke about it, I could see the VCs nodding in approval," he wrote.

ThoughtSTEM and four other start-ups were selected for an opportunity to pitch at the Latism conference after submitting an application. Esper and fellow entrepreneurs got an chance to meet one on one with venture capitalists and other startup gurus. She gave a four-minute pitch and answered a three-minute Q&A. 

In addition to the $10,000, ThoughtSTEM also won a table and a Chromebook. 

"We have also gained connections with incredible VCs, accelerators and startups all dedicated to improving the state of computer science education as we are!" Esper wrote in an email. 

Read the whole Forbes story here.  

Read a story on the Jacobs School website about ThoughtSTEM here

Go to the ThoughtSTEM website:

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