Women’s History Month: Celebrating the success of women founders — STEM Minds
Founder and CEO, STEM Minds
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Editor's note: March is celebrated as Women’s History Month in the US. At Google, we’re proud to celebrate women from all backgrounds and are committed to increasing the number of women in the technology industry. Over the next few weeks, we will showcase women-led startups and how they use Google Cloud to grow their businesses. This blog highlights Anu Bidani, Founder and CEO of STEM Minds, a Canadian-based startup that uplevels STEM education in classrooms and communities worldwide.
Many schools follow general curriculums that don’t focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Although basic STEM subjects are taught in most classrooms, students often miss out on learning more advanced concepts that help develop crucial skills, from critical thinking and problem-solving to teamwork and adaptability.
We founded STEM Minds to make STEM education more accessible and fun for K-12 students worldwide. Our comprehensive educational platform helps students and teachers learn through a broad scope of on-demand courses which are gamified with interactive simulations. We offer virtual workshops for teachers as well as professional development on-demand courses. In our community in Aurora, Ontario, we have an innovation hub offering in-person classes to children 4-18.
Over 63,000 students already use STEM Minds to unlock next-level technology skills such as coding, app and game development, graphic design, machine learning (ML) and more. As we grow our team, we’ll introduce new tools to teach additional STEM subjects from cloud computing and big data analytics to SQL and more. We’ll also expand our partnerships with schools and nonprofits as we launch STEM Minds in new markets and empower students to build brighter futures.
Designing self-learning algorithms with the help of Google for Startups Accelerator Canada
Although the STEM Minds learning platform was developed on a scalable cloud-based solution, we quickly realized that to serve the education market, we needed a platform that was more versatile and easily adopted in schools, especially as we were looking at enrolling high school students in our Virtual Labs for Advanced STEM. We also knew it would be challenging for our small development team to roll out new ML-driven features without built-in support for artificial intelligence (AI) applications.
We looked at the options and identified Google Cloud, including Google for Startups, as the best choice to help us cost-effectively scale STEM Minds Virtual Labs. Across all of the cloud providers, we knew that Google Cloud was the best option for startups to leverage AI due to their AI/ML capabilities as well as the holistic support they offer. Joining the Google for Startups Program also gave us immediate access to Google Cloud credits which we used to cost-effectively trial different AI and machine learning products.
The program opened the door for us to be accepted into the Google for Startups Accelerator Canada and participate in workshops focused on product design, customer acquisition, and leadership development. Perhaps most importantly, the accelerator allowed us to tap the deep technical knowledge of dedicated Google for Startup experts who helped our team deploy and optimize Vertex AI. We’re now efficiently creating sophisticated, self-learning algorithms that power advanced STEM simulations and digital lab projects.
In the future, we’ll explore how Vertex AI Workbench and AutoML can help us quickly build custom ML models for additional applications for students to learn and build advanced STEM skills. We’re also planning to automatically generate detailed student progress reports with BigQuery and Looker, while using Compute Engine to spin up scalable virtual machines for processor-intensive STEM workloads for programs like eSports.
Empowering women founders
With the help of the Google for Startups Program and Google for Startups Accelerator Canada, STEM Minds is positively disrupting STEM education for hundreds of thousands of students worldwide. Our success highlights the importance of overcoming long-standing industry biases with partners such as Google Cloud who champion diversity and inclusion and actively empower women founders.
By working closely with dedicated Google for Startups experts, we avoided major technical and business missteps while accelerating time to market. We also received credits and funding that enabled us to allocate more resources to R&D, grow our team, and rapidly scale STEM Minds.
Although we’ve come a long way, our journey with Google Cloud is only beginning. We’re looking forward to joining the Google for Startups Alumni, and continue to network with like-minded education startups, meet other women founders, and boost essential skills with technical deep dives.
I encourage women founders to learn more about accelerators that support startups and women founders like the Google for Startups Cloud Program, Google for Startups Accelerator Canada, along with other organizations such as SheBoot, the Women’s Founder Network, Venturelab, and Coralus (formerly SheEO). These programs and organizations provide much-needed safe spaces to build strong support networks and ask other women entrepreneurs and mentors for guidance.
Democratizing STEM education
STEM Minds empowers K-12 students worldwide to reach their full potential as self-directed, life-long learners. As we grow our team, we’ll continue to work closely with Google for Startups experts and Google for Startups Accelerator Canada advisors to further expand our AI/ML tech stack, develop additional educational solutions, and launch STEM Minds in new markets.
We’re excited to see what we accomplish next as we democratize STEM education to help students improve math and science proficiency while unlocking next-level technical and collaborative skills.
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