Interview with Oscar Pedroso, Co-Founder & CEO of Thimble.
What traction do you have so far?
We’ve generated ~$1M in revenue since the Thimble‘s launch in 2016. We sold $300k on Kickstarter, $500k to home school families via a subscription box service, and recently shifted our focus to K-12 schools where we’ve generated $150K to date selling curriculum, kits, and training. We’ve delivered 15,000 units to date and are partnered with 60 schools.
What is the story and inspiration behind starting Thimble?
I am the son of two Latino immigrants; my first language is Spanish. Although my parents did not graduate from college, they made education a top priority for me growing up. I was fortunate to attend affluent schools where I was part of a winning robotics and math olympiad teams. After college, I worked as a College Admission Officer and the students I met were building some of the most amazing things I’d ever seen (robots, drones, rovers).
Two years later, I found myself volunteering my time at a local makerspace – and for the first time in my life – I was working with kids who looked just like me – except they didn’t have access to tools and resources to build anything. This became a huge inspiration for jumping into the edtech market and what would become the seed for starting Thimble a few years down the road.
What is the unmet market need or challenge that Thimble is addressing?
Jobs in interactive electronics, engineering, and computer systems are projected to grow 30% by 2025. Despite strong STEM and coding programs, most of the 135,000 schools in the US do not have modern tools, training, and curriculum to teach kids the practical skills necessary to succeed in the digital economy.
We are bringing robotics and coding into classrooms of kids who might never have the opportunity to fall in love with tech; particularly, women and minorities which are highly underrepresented in STEM careers. Improving this gap is essential for the United State’s growth, and in achieving equity and growing a broadly scientifically literate public.
How does your company solve the proposed problem and why you’re the team to solve this problem?
Our curriculum (which spans 5th grade through 12th grade) includes 15 different types of kits ranging from basic circuits, robotics, Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, and other hardware. Our learning portal resembles an online textbook and contains step-by-step instructions, video tutorials, and a troubleshooting forum to help students build projects from start to finish. We also offer online or in-person professional development to ensure teachers have everything they need to be successful.
Why are you participating in the LearnLaunch Accelerator? Why did you choose this program?
Buffalo is not a place for edtech startups. We joined LearnLaunch Accelerator for 3 reasons: 1) Tap into mentor expertise to brainstorm ways to improve our 12-18 month strategic plan, business model, and partnerships; 2) Connect with advisors and investors that understand edtech and are passionate about our cause; 3) Build a network of educators and administrators to form relationships and run pilots within public, private, and large school districts.
Learn more about Thimble here.