The Last Word: Siddarth Nandyala, the 12-Year-Old Frisco CEO Championing STEM

“Fail just stands for First Attempt In Learning.”

Siddarth Nandyala
.… the 12-year-old Frisco entrepreneur at the Dallas Startup Week Kickoff on September 10 at The Sports Academy at the Star.

It’s a mantra that 12-year-old Siddarth Nandyala lives by. Failure is just a stepping stone to success, and obstacles are opportunities to grow, he says.

In just five short months, the young CEO’s company has sold over 177 STEM IT kits, designed to help kids code robotic projects and dive deeper into the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

His inspiration to launch STEM IT? Despite the many STEM kits available, most of them fall short in fostering genuine creativity and understanding, Nandyala says. He set out to develop a kit that inspires kids to think critically and experiment freely. In other words, he created the kind of kit he wanted for himself.

Competing against China-based firms, STEM IT stands out with its in-depth learning materials, the young CEO says. The STEM kit industry is booming, expected to reach $6.7 billion globally by 2028, with the U.S. contributing $964 million by 2025, he says. That growth aligns with an increasing emphasis on STEM in schools.

STEM IT sells its kits on its website and plans to expand to Amazon. “Our short-term goals are by December to sell 500 kits in the United States and another 100 kits in the Indian geography,” Nandyala said at the event.

Looking ahead, he hopes to get endorsements from at least three school districts. An upcoming AI-powered kit promises voice control for the company’s prosthetic arm, Nandyala says.

Siddarth Nandyala took the took the top prize at the spring 2023 YEA! pitch competition in Frisco.

As a 7th grader last spring, Nandyala and his company bagged an award of more than $2,000 at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Investor Panel Pitch Competition. Frisco’s YEA!, the first Texas chapter, bridges the education and business communities.

The YEA! program offers young visionaries like Nandyala the platform and resources they need to bring their ideas to life.

Frisco EDC president Jason Ford says the program has become the top Young Entrepreneurs Academy in the U.S. Over the past 3-5 years, Frisco has consistently produced the No. 1 or No. 2 Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

That’s largely thanks to mentors, coaches, and leaders like Peter Burns, the program manager of YEA! in Frisco, says Ford. Burns took the stage with Nandyala at the Dallas Startup Week kick-off.

Burns, a U.S. Army veteran who started his own venture after stints at top telecommunication firms, is instrumental in guiding and mentoring young talents like Nandyala at YEA!

“Our model is to start them as a student and then finish with them as CEO,” Burns said. He wants people to “take a different look when you look at our young people, instead of just thinking of them as our future: Start thinking of them as our now.”

Ask yourself: “What can you do to pour into them and then watch and see the success that they have,” he said.

Burns is proud of Nandyala. The young CEO is a prime example of someone who’s humble and coachable: Both necessary ingredients. 

“Every student that comes to our program, we tell the parents the program is not for them. It is for our students,” Burns said. “When we go through the ideation phase, our goal is to see if we can shake them—push them off the idea that they have to see whether or not they’re really committed.”

On stage, Burns asked the young CEO what he does for fun: “I love to code,” Nandyala said. “I am very advanced in both Python and C++.”

Nandyala is currently working on artificial intelligence and machine learning—specifically tiny machine learning with microcontrollers, he says. He’s also working on a smart city diorama using artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

The young CEO is also an avid chess player—seventh in the world in the US 600 category in 2019. “I’ve been very interested in chess since I was very young, I think around six years old,” he said

“I really pursued that, but I really think entrepreneurship is where I meant to be,” Nandyala said. 

You should never hold back on your ideas and your dreams, he says, adding “there’s always a way to achieve them and I feel that the YEA program has really unlocked that potential in me.”

But, the young entrepreneur adds, “something I always remember: Mr. Burns says I should always be humble and listen to my mother.”

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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