Strive gets backing from Y Combinator to show kids coding is fun • TechCrunch

Strive gets backing from Y Combinator to show kids coding is fun • TechCrunch

Strive gets backing from Y Combinator to show kids coding is fun • TechCrunch

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Strive is an online learning platform that teaches kids to code, but it wants to do more than that. Developed with an active learning model that allows students to lead lessons, Strive wants to instill in them a lifelong love of STEM subjects.


The Singapore-based startup announced today that it has raised a $1.3 million seed round led by Y Combinator (this is an alumnus of the accelerator program), with participation from Soma Capital, Goodwater Capital and individual investors like Crimson Education CEO Jamie Beaton, co-founder of WestBridge Capital and founding member of Sequoia India KP Balaraja, and co-founder of Segment and ex-CTO Calvin French-Owen.

Strive, which organizes private lessons for children aged 8 to 16, plans to expand across Asia, targeting the 3.7 million students in international schools.

Founded in 2020 by Tamir Shklaz and Pulkit Agarwal, Strive was built on the idea that the development of automation and AI technology means that everything you learn could be obsolete in a few years.

“The most important skill we can give children or anyone is learning to adapt,” Shklaz said. “If you want to inspire adaptable students, learning has to be fun. Learning should be joyful. So we really started Strive with the main intention of equipping kids to thrive in the 21st century by making them fall in love with the learning process.

What makes Strive different from many other online coding learning platforms for kids? Shklaz said Strive’s goal is to create a more efficient and engaging learning experience than its competitors.

“We have really amazing teachers, but we don’t hire teachers based on their technical ability,” he said. “Of course, they need to be able to teach coding, but far more important is their ability to empathize and build rapport with the student.”

The courses are “hyper personalized” so that students can choose the projects they want to work on, for example, they can code a game like pong, a mathematical stimulation or a physical simulation. Projects are visual and have instant feedback. Once a student has solved a problem and completed a new line of code, they immediately see the results on their screen. “We use circles, colors and movement, and that’s what makes it really appealing to kids.”

Agarwal said that even as more parents and education systems are beginning to emphasize coding, their teaching methods often leave children feeling disengaged and frustrated. “Most of the time, students are still introduced to coding and then they get discouraged from it. They come to the false conclusion that coding is too hard, coding is dry, or coding just isn’t for me.

Active learning means that instead of lecturing students throughout a class, teachers ask them questions and guide them through coding exercises, letting them take the lead.

Agarwal gave me a short sample lesson, which was an interesting experience for me because I’ve never studied coding, so I start at the same level as the kids they teach (or even lower, to be honest).

Agarwal first asked me if I was interested in learning averages. I said no, so he asked me if I wanted to draw instead, which I did. He walked me through the steps of coding a gridded art sketchbook, but I was leading the class, choosing the results I wanted, like making the sketchbook background my favorite color .

Instead of telling me what to do, Agarwal asked me to change a number, then he asked me what I thought of that action (this moved a dot to the corresponding number on the grid). By the end I was able to draw shapes with the dot using my cursor and had successfully coded my first sketchbook. I don’t think I’m describing the experience very well, but it was fun to find out what was happening every time I entered a new code. The lesson was engaging and something I would consider enrolling my daughter in once she is old enough.

When Strive launched, it had 16 students, and each day Shklaz and Agarwal spent six hours teaching so they could test different content and standards. Strive employees, including its founders, have yet to teach at least one student. For example, Strive’s operations manager doesn’t know how to code, but she’s taking coding classes with her professors to prepare for hiring a student.

The scalability of its model is one of the challenges Strive may face in executing its growth strategy. Shklaz said they had two solutions. One slightly increases the number of students per class, from one against one to one against four. The second is that Strive has a large pool of potential teachers, as it hires many university students studying coding. Shklaz said Strive will create a training process and infrastructure to ensure the quality of instruction remains consistent.

Strive’s current customer acquisition strategy relies primarily on word of mouth from children and their parents. Part of its new funding will be used to expand its code editor, adding additional concepts and curriculum tailored to the interests of different children. One of the first people Strive hired was its director of learning Nick McIntyre, whose experience includes running a K-8 creative space, teaching high school math and computer science, and mentoring undergraduate students through Google Summer of Code. McIntyre and Agarwal are responsible for creating most of Strive’s course content and plan to take it beyond coding into other STEM topics.

Teaching kids to code “is one of the desired outcomes, which is being able to think and problem solve and code them the same way you would develop fluency in languages,” Shklaz said. “But far more important than that is confidence and the joy of learning.”


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