Get to know: Oscar Pedroso
Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund Recipient
Getting an education was a big deal in my household; neither of my parents attended college, so it was even more important that their two kids grow up with more opportunities to succeed than they did. I’m proud to be the son of Honduran immigrants who raised a family in New York City.While most in my situation felt pressured by this challenge put on by their parents, I embraced it.
Since college, I’ve spent my entire professional career in education. I started off as a college admission officer and then taught math and computer science at one of the poorest inner city schools in New York. While there, I learned that kids can be taught any subject as long as it’s backed with kindness and a love for teaching. I worked with hundreds of kids, many of whom were brilliant and had high aspirations to get into technology. But our school nor district had the modern training, tools, or curriculum to teach students the necessary skills to succeed in today’s workforce. In short, some of these kids would barely have the chance to become an engineer.
I found myself constantly thinking, “what kind of world do we want to live in if we can’t give all kids equal access to a high quality education?”
After I learned that 55% of schools in the U.S. do not offer a progressive Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) or Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, I decided to start Thimble.io. It was a tipping point in my career. I wanted to give racial and ethnic minority students a real chance to consider STEM as a potential career path.
Thimble.io is an online and in-person technology program for K-12 schools that teaches children all types of technical skills - including robotics, coding, cybersecurity, drone technology, AR/VR, and others. The program includes lesson software, reusable kits, and training for non-STEM teachers.
My vision for Thimble.io is to become the world’s largest STEM school for any child - no matter who they are and where they’re from. In the U.S., education is becoming anemic - especially among public schools; there’s a lack of math, science, and art education. Without these programs, kids won’t get the well rounded education they need to learn skills needed in tomorrow’s workforce. Children won’t get to become engineers, programmers, video game designers, technologists - and one of the reasons for that is because they don’t have the access and resources at an early age to develop that interest and passion. Thimble.io is here to change that.
It takes a village.
Running a business has so many moving parts, and it can be lonely out there when you’re hustling. As a Latino founder, it can be extra lonely if you don’t have that support behind you; I don’t care what anyone says but it takes a village to build a company. Through Inicio Ventures, the community and investment have been incredibly helpful. Not only have we received introductions to potential investors and partners, but we’ve also connected with other founders within the network. The link to other founders is especially priceless because we’re able to share lessons learned, resources, and network.
That commitment to community is what has sustained us during the last 12 months as we’ve been awarded 31 district-wide contracts in the U.S. These districts include Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, New York City, and others. Since our company is made up of 8 employees, we don’t have the bandwidth to sell into every district we’re in.
So we’re using Google for Startup funds to fuel our business development and sales efforts. We hope to hire a Sales Development Representative and Field Representative to nurture our current sales pipeline made up of 6,000 schools - that’s about 2.5M students.
Stay focused on your path!
What I have learned so far is that starting a business can be a long journey and one that requires balance. This entrepreneurial adventure would be nothing without the support of my loved ones, the relationships with other founders, and supporters that understand our space.
ABOUT: Inicio Ventures
An initiative of Hispanics in Philanthropy, Inicio Ventures is an impact fund manager focused on bridging the wealth gap in the US. Inicio Ventures increases Latinx participation and success in the startup economy by supporting and investing in startup leaders that identify as Hispanic.
ABOUT: Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund
The Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund provides hands-on support and non-dilutive cash awards of $100K each to Latino founders across the country.