Cambridge Assessment International Education

Early code learning evangelist

EducationWorld February 2020 | People

Coding education evangelist Karan Bajaj is the Mumabi-based founder-CEO of WhiteHat Jr Pvt. Ltd (estb.2018, headcount: 200), an edtech start-up offering individual subscribers aged 6-14 years age-appropriate computer coding programmes designed to enhance their reasoning, problem-solving, logical and analytical thinking skills. The company’s online live one-on-one study programme is accessible on a laptop using a simple Internet connection. Currently, the company has signed up 500,000 children facilitated by 600 highly-qualified teachers.

The start-up is named after the WhiteHat ethical computer hackers who help companies identify weak links in their computer systems and assist law enforcement agencies to detect malicious cyber attacks.

Newspeg. To mark its first anniversary last November, the company rolled out its first coding learning programme for K-12 schools countrywide. Moreover, in a major boost to its corpus, White Hat Jr recently raised $10 million (Rs.70.9 crore) from shareholders Nexus Ventures Partners and Omidyar Network India, joined by the Silicon Valley-based Owl Ventures.

History. An engineering and business management alumnus of BITS, Pilani and IIM-Bangalore, Bajaj acquired valuable work experience in several blue-chip multinationals including Kraft Foods, Boston Consulting Group and Discovery Networks before deciding to go solo and promoting WhiteHat Jr. in 2018.

Since then the company has developed the world’s first structured artificial intelligence and space technology coding curriculum for children. Moreover, its teachers are specially trained to engage with children to teach the science of coding in an interesting manner. Average annual subscription fee: Rs.35,000.

Direct talk. “As a father of two young children, I am a committed believer in the power of early childhood education and it was always my aspiration to harness the natural creativity of 5-6-year-olds. After deeply researching this subject, I discovered that children are mentally equipped with the fundamentals of logic, sequence, structure and algorithmic thinking. Teaching children to code develops their rational, logical, analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, providing them an excellent foundation for future learning,” says Bajaj, also an accomplished author.

Future plans. Confident that WhiteHat Jr’s child-friendly computer coding programmes will attract children, Bajaj has drawn up ambitious plans for the future. “Next year, we plan to expand to markets in South-east Asia and North America. We have introduced a programme for top performers on our platform to give them an opportunity to win an all-expense paid trip to Silicon Valley with one parent. Two children from the first batch have already been shortlisted. Additionally, we will offer $15,000 fellowships to help the Top 15 performers to incubate their own start-ups. In WhiteHat Jr, our goal is to provide children a solid foundation for success in the new digital era,” says Bajaj.

The Force be with you!

Paromita Sengupta (Bangalore)

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