Based on the premise that teens learn best from other teens, a group of high school students and recent high school graduates from Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside, and Portola Valley recently launched a startup. The company, PeerVids, makes online educational videos taught by high school students with the subject matter correlating directly with the textbooks and courses taught at local high schools.
One of the founders, Charlie Tidmarsh, who graduated from Woodside Priory and is headed to Cal, started making videos his freshman year. “I love math and science, but lots of people struggle,” he said. “One of my teachers, Paul Trudell, gave me lots of inspiration and support to start making video tutorials.”
Charlie and fellow founder Nikhil Goyle, an M-A grad who’s headed to NYU, have known each other since they were in a Mommy and Me class together. “We worked on the concept and developed a website in our junior year,” he said. “Bringing Ajay [Shah] aboard has really revitalized us. We got office space in downtown Palo Alto and now have a staff of 20, 16 of whom are teachers.”
Ajay will work with Connor Woods — both will be seniors at M-A — to keep the business going during the school year. “Students learn best from each other,” he said. “What they’ve just learned is new and that makes it easier to convey to other students.”
The online lectures are organized by textbook chapters. “That’s another way we differentiate ourselves,” said Nikhil. “Other services teach more conceptually, but because our tutorials are textbook based, they are more accessible.”
Added Charlie: “And we aren’t trying to replace teachers. We recognize that teachers are integral.”
Ajay said one of the goals this summer is to bring in the most talented high school students to generate content and to spread the word to local public and private high schools. Ultimately the goal is to go nationwide.
Meanwhile, PeerVids has expanded into one-on-one, face-to-face tutoring. “It’s kind of a cool thing we’re doing after hours,” said Ajay. “We started that service because people contacted us saying it was something they were interested in. The student interaction is very valuable.”
PeerVids received a donation — not an investment — from venture capitalist Tang Capital that allowed them to expand staff and get office space this summer. As they look to future fundraising efforts, more decisions loom. Explained Nikhil: “We’ll face a crossroads of where we want to go, whether we want to thrive off donations or make a profit.”
If you are interested in getting involved with PeerVids, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Connor Woods, PeerVids Director of Marketing who will be senior at M-A; top photo, founders left to right: Charlie Tidmarsh, Ajay Shaw, Nikhil Goyle; second photo of M-A senior and PeerVids teacher Georgia Reid