Sabari Raja is co-founder and CEO of Nepris, which connects professionals to classrooms via virtual connectivity technologies. Here, the emerging DFW ed tech leader talks about where the idea for Nepris came from, how DFW helped the company grow, and what’s next for the new company.
Where did the idea for Nepris come from and what impact do you hope it has for kids and communities?
I have always felt that traditional school was not so exciting because it lacked relevance to the real world. I could solve a quadratic equation in my sleep but had no idea how to apply it in a real-world setting. When my co-founder, Binu Thayamkery, and I started Nepris, we envisioned a different world for our kids where they see connections to abstract topics in academics to application in real world and potential career pathways.
We were part of many discussions in the DFW area where industry and education stakeholders got together for daylong meetings to discuss how to bridge the STEM pipeline gap. At the end of the day there were millions of professionals employed at these companies who have the skills to inspire the students, but there was no easy way for industry and education to discover each other. Nepris came out of this need to have a marketplace like Facebook but specifically to help connect industry and education stakeholders and that is what we have set out to accomplish.
Tell us a little more about how Nepris benefits students and teachers?
Nepris makes it possible to connect professionals to the right classrooms. For companies, nonprofits and intermediaries like the Economic Development Council for workforce development, Nepris provides a platform to help them further their education outreach goals, which in turn leads to bridging the workforce pipeline gap. For educators who typically do not have access to diverse network professionals, Nepris becomes a hub to find and connect virtually their students to role models and experts. For companies like AT&T that have committed 1 million hours of employee engagement, Nepris provides a channel to meet that goal efficiently.
Why did you launch Nepris in DFW and how has the community helped you grow the business?
DFW is where the idea for Nepris came about because we were part of the active discussion in the community. Our first investor, our first teacher, our first school district pilot, and our first companies that participated were from the DFW area. We have an excellent investor network, education technology communities, innovative schools, and thriving industry sectors that make this the place to be to grow our network and to be successful.
What’s next for Nepris?
We want to be the one-stop hub for industry and education to collaborate. To this effect, we have already introduced many variations of industry engagement in the classroom, from companies offering virtual tours, interview-an-expert session, mentoring and evaluating student projects, and creating virtual workplace experiences. The possibilities are endless. We are looking to grow in the community college and higher education institutions as well as helping engage students through authentic and real-world learning experiences.
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