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Calgary’s Next Economy: YoungSkillz is filling the void of online STEM and creative learning

Mahesh and Shruti Date decided they would take matters into their own hands when they couldn’t find specific learning programs for their son.

It started when they sought out resources to help him develop his public speaking and leadership skills.

“We found that the options were really limited. And we found some of the programs available only during the summer,” Mahesh said.

“Once, we tried to get in on them, but they got filled up pretty fast.”

The Vancouver-based husband-and-wife team then put their own skills to work to develop YoungSkillz. Mahesh built his career in analytics and data management, and Shruti builds website components.

Mahesh said their skills complement one another and they saw an opportunity.

“We decided to actually start something, which would help not only our son but a lot of parents who are in a similar boat,” Mahesh said.

Youngskillz is an online platform for parents to find Science, Tech, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, along with life skill and creative resources for kids aged 6 to 17.

They have everything from Python programming to origami… with lots of things in between.

The system

Mahesh and Shruti have developed their own program for the site, but they’ve also worked with third-party groups to develop and deliver the content for kids.

Right now, they’re providing content to kids across Canada and into the US.

In any given program, there are five or six sessions. Kids would start at the introductory level, take the courses and then move into more advanced levels.

This year, they launched a ‘summer camp’ program. It’s similar to their regular programs, but condensed into a week.

Kids can continue to progress through any given area.

Relevant problem

With the push for more tech-based education, Mahesh said this will be a growing area of concern for parents. They want to find the right programs for their kids to tap into areas of passion.

They also wanted to ensure the creative crossover in their course delivery.

While both had the technical expertise to get the job done, what they lacked was the business background.

They enrolled in the Platform Calgary Junction program to backstop their skills and build a company.

“This was a very big opportunity for us to get involved, to understand a little bit more about specifically areas like marketing and what people are looking for in terms of getting traction,” Mahesh said.

It’s opened them up to thinking beyond the direct connection with parents and into working with schools.

That’s what they need to catapult their business forward.

“Our vision is to empower kids anywhere in the world,” said Mahesh.

“We hope to see ourselves grow beyond our city or even we are hoping to go into different countries.”