This summer, with the help of our fabulous Communications Intern Isabel Thompson, we’ll be maintaining a “Where Are They Now?” blog series. It’ll check in with past winners of our annual Impact Challenge as well as with past participants of our Accelerator Program, and document where they are in their work today. In this edition, we interviewed Genius Box’s CEO Kate Pipa and COO Shivangi Shah.
I got the opportunity to sit down with the founders of Genius Box, Kate Pipa and Shivangi Shah, last Monday to talk about where their growing company is heading.
Genius Box is an innovative solution to engage youth in STEM education. It works with a simple subscription and a monthly package is shipped to your door. The package includes 3+ hands-on STEM activities for 8-11 year olds with a different theme each month.
“We really wanted to focus on curiosity and hands on discovery,” Shivangi explained. “The idea of Genius Box was to provide a fun and educational way of pursuing STEM that came right to your door.”
Shivangi and Kate met during their undergrad years at Northeastern, where they were both a part of a student club.
“We both came from social innovation and social justice backgrounds,” Shivangi stated.
During Kate’s senior year at Northeastern she and Shivangi, who was a sophomore at the time, competed in The Husky StartUp Challenge. It was there that they came up with a subscription business model and the idea to sell a socially good product.
“We wanted to make social impact,” Kate said. “Through the Challenge’s bootcamps and workshops, we thought up Genius Box,” Shivangi added.
The start-up was featured in Engadget and from there Kate and Shivangi began the starting stages of their business. Kate and Shivangi were unsure of what to expect from the market in the beginning.
“We did not know what kind of reception we were going to get once we demoed the minimal viable product, but it was enormous,” Kate shared.
They demoed their product in April of 2013 and later that year, they created a crowd funding campaign through which they raised $10,000 of initial capital.
“By November of 2014, we started getting subscriptions, and our first box went out that December,” Kate said.
“I was introduced to reSET through Keshia Ashe from Many Mentors,” Kate explained. “And at that point in time, I was returning home from college, where I was surrounded by a group of peers and resources were right there. Once home, it didn’t take long to realize that I did not have the same built-in network anymore.”
“I’d say there were two things I enjoyed most about the Accelerator Program: having the cohort of people who were going through similar things and becoming aware of the access to the resources in Connecticut,” Kate continued.
Towards the end of our conversation, I wanted to know how reSET’s readers could get involved with Genius Box, and without hesitation, Shivangi replied, “Buy our box!”
“In terms of working with us, we are open to anything,” Shivangi said. “We are actually currently looking for a social media manager!” Kate added.
I was able to squeeze in one last question before the Genius Box team ran off to another commitment; what is the best piece of advice you can give a social entrepreneur whose just getting started?
“It’s going to take up a lot of time and effort, be prepared for that. But if you can treat things like learning experiences, that is really important,” Kate stated.
“Be realistic. You can have great optimism, but be sure to be realistic too,” Shivangi added on.
For more information or to contact Kate and Shivangi visit their website or email them – firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com.