Parents with kids stuck learning at home during the pandemic have had to look for alternative activities to promote the h...
US schools are not providing high quality coding and engineering instruction in their classrooms—and parents are unprepared to fill that gap
COVID shut down 95% of US schools—creating 12+ months of learning loss for low income students, and setting national STEM achievement even further behind.
How did we get here? Data tells us repeatedly that schools don’t have the tools, curriculum, and/or trained faculty to teach the necessary skills for success in STEM fields. Without modernized training, teachers are offering ineffective, outdated tech curriculums.
Parents and teachers don’t have the time or expertise to address the student learning gap on their own. They need an easy-to-implement solution to remediate and engage students in STEM in more meaningful ways.
Many critics see these issues as a structural flaw in our education system. Thimble sees an opportunity. We’ve created a dynamic, out-of-the-box solution to revolutionize coding and engineering instruction for K–12 students at school, and at home.
Thimble: Making STEM learning easy and accessible to tomorrow’s tech leaders
Live classes taught by experts, paired with fully equipped robotics kits
In just under 5 years, Thimble has helped over 1500 families and 300 public schools introduce kids to education and career paths in robotics, coding, and engineering—subjects often left out of curriculum models. We deliver this instruction in two ways:
Group learning through school classrooms and after-school programming.
Direct to individual subscribers in their homes.
Solution for Schools
Thimble provides an all-in-one solution for launching or expanding existing STEM programs across all grade levels. Our hybrid design allows for safe access at home or in the classroom.
What’s provided: Standards-aligned curriculum, ready-to-teach lessons, classroom kits, staff training, 24/7 access to our illustrated, online lesson library with step-by-step instructions, and assessments.
Where it can be used: STEM classes, after-school programs, summer camps, hybrid programs, libraries, makerspaces, neighborhood and community-based programs.
Solution for Parents
Thimble provides a monthly subscription service that teaches kids robotics and coding skills through live and on-demand classes, without requiring parents to have prior base knowledge. Project-based kits are delivered every three months and live classes are held twice a week - taught by passionate, trusted technology teachers. See how one California family is using Thimble as a STEM solution for their child.
16 Reusable STEM kits paired with curriculum and professional development
Our platform consists of 3 main elements:
16 kits are one component of a 4-tiered curriculum.
Kits are equipped with the best quality components to complete the build.
Kits are reusable and shareable (1-2 students per kit)
Live, interactive classes are hosted by TechEd Experts twice a week during after school hours.
Pre-recorded video lessons are available on-demand, 24/7 for self-exploration at home or at school.
To prepare educators and program coordinators to implement Thimble’s curriculum.
Available in-person or virtually, to ensure that even a teacher with no prior coding experience is comfortable using Thimble in their classroom.
20K students impacted
1,500 parent subscribers, 300 middle- and high-school contracts—and growing.
$1.2M in total revenue through July 2021.
Since launch, we’ve shipped thousands of units directly to family homes and schools. This has helped demonstrate proof of concept in both B2C and B2B markets. However, we plan to focus exclusively on building our school pipeline to $3.7M in growth accounts. We believe schools are where we can create the most impact.
We’ve also engaged partner orders, and currently have a backlog of 10k units to prepare for distribution. With the government providing $56B in COVID relief funds to address learning loss, we expect sales to schools to grow exponentially over the next several years.
5 years of Social Impact
300 public schools and counting
In 2015, when Oscar launched Thimble, he set a goal to impact 100 schools with free and reduced lunch programs by 2020. To date, Thimble has reached over 300 schools with free and reduced lunch programs—crushing his personal goal.
At the time, the misconception was that public/charter schools would not have neither the funds, nor the bandwidth to support STEM programs. Oscar knew this was not the case. In 2018, he received a state-wide contract in New York through BOCES to work with public schools in need of developing STEM programs. By 2019, the Thimble team met their goal of serving 300 schools—80% with free and reduced lunch programs.
Thimble helps parents, public schools, and after-school programs
for at-risk youth, girls, and underrepresented student demographics in STEM
Schools, nonprofits, and parents form Thimble’s primary client base. Adopters of the company’s products and services generally fall into one of five categories:
Forward-thinking Schools: These are progressive, STEM-focused schools with state-funded budgets that support innovation in the classroom. Silver Creek and Amherst School Districts, two of Thimble’s first customers, fit into this category.
Educational Support Agencies (ESAs): School districts sometimes buy through ESAs and get partially reimbursed for their purchase. Thimble has a statewide contract with BOCES in New York. Thimble recently submitted RFP proposals to become an approved vendor in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Philadelphia, Providence, Arlington, Port St. Lucie, San Antonio, Arlington, and Fort Bend School Districts.
Distributors and Publishers: These companies focus on selling to schools and use Thimble as part of their solution package. Eduporium and iDesign are examples.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Corporations such as National Grid and Capital One have company missions that support STEM and workforce development; they create community grants that grant scholarships to students participating in Thimble programs.
Tech-forward Parents: Parents make up a significant portion of our sales and are comprised of ‘Generation X’ moms and ‘tech’ dads. Many of these orders are made on our website or on Amazon.
Recurring revenue with 4x growth over the next 2 years
For Schools (B2B)
Elementary, middle, and high schools pay an annual recurring fee made up of 3 components:
- Kit fee
- $149 / kit (reusable)
- 2-15% discount based on volume
- Recurring software license fee
- $28 per student seat per year
- Includes 24/7 access to lessons, pre-recorded videos, quizzes, and assessments
- Professional development fee
- Virtual training: $600 per half-day session (3 hours)
- In-person training: $2,000
Thimble is actively pursuing district contracts through a procurement process. Pending school district contracts include Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cartwright, Dallas, Providence, Philadelphia, Fort Bend, Port St. Lucie, Arlington, Richardson, Pasadena, and San Antonio Public Schools.
As of July 2021, we have been awarded district-wide contracts in Dallas, Atlanta, San Antonio, and Cartwright school districts. We also have a statewide contract in New York through BOCES.
For Parents (B2C)
Parents pay $60 per month or $700 per year (70% margins). Kids receive a kit every 3 months. Live and on-demand classes are available 24/7 in our lesson library to help students build their projects at their own pace. (Margins: 70%)
The E-Learning Market Growing to a $275B Opportunity
The E-Learning industry as a whole is projected to grow 17% YoY for the next four years and beyond. It is expected to reach $275 billion globally by the end of 2025, as schools rush to invest in solutions that improve remote learning, address learning loss, and promote STEM education across all grade levels.
Perfect timing: 4 reasons timing is on Thimble’s side
COVID Federal relief: ESSER II Funds are being disbursed to US schools to address the impact of COVID-19 on elementary and secondary schools. (e.g., addressing learning loss via enrichment programs, preparing schools for reopening). Schools have until 2023 to spend these funds.
Schools need help: Only 45% of US schools teach STEM. Career and technical education (CTE) programs are expected to rise across all grade levels. Current enrollment rates in postsecondary institutions fall short in producing STEM graduates alongside the widening STEM skills gap. Disinterest in STEM subjects among kids in K-12 also perpetuate the current talent shortage.
Shortage of STEM talent: Labor needs for innovation continue to rise, creating more STEM jobs. Despite the growth, there are unfilled jobs due to a shortage of available technical professionals, resulting in additional business challenges.
Gender and racial disparities: 24% of women in the workforce make their living in STEM careers. People of color are 10 times less likely than their white counterparts to obtain STEM degrees. Evolving our society for the better through technology will require a far more diverse talent pool in STEM fields than the alarmingly resilient white and Asian male pool we’re currently running with today.
We’re former STEM students and teachers with a knack for hybrid learning
Thimble competes with kit companies, marketplaces, curriculum publishers, and online coding schools
Kit companies (Kiwi, Ozobots) lack live instruction, school curriculum, and usually consist of snap-together parts. This leaves kids wanting a far deeper and more interesting understanding of electronics, engineering, and computer science—which are niche subject areas we teach.
Kit marketplaces (Sparkfun, Adafruit) are overwhelming to navigate and don’t provide a roadmap for learning like we do. Their kits are usually not beginner-friendly and are aimed at more seasoned hobbyists, not kids.
Coding schools (Juni Learning, Codecademy) teach basic coding languages through live/self-paced classes, but don’t offer hands-on materials which are essential for learning physical computing. They lack the physical manipulatives to keep kids engaged for longer periods of instructional time.
School curriculum providers (Project Lead the Way, Vex Robotics) don’t offer a great many STEM kits, and some of the ones they do offer use very basic parts. Modules are outdated, leaving kids short-changed on both hands-on learning and educational depth in these more technical disciplines.
We’re not just a kit company—
we’re a curriculum provider, teacher trainer, and live instructor all in one. We believe the ease of developing kits, offering live and on-demand classes, and creating a seamless curriculum spanning all grade levels will continue to provide a sustainable advantage.
A Thimble kit in the hand of every boy and girl
Our focus on preparing girls, underserved kids, and special-needs kids for tomorrow’s tech careers means that we are redefining how kids are exposed to technology skills in school. Thimble aims to create a world where kids have the option to consider an education or career path in technology—no matter who and where they are.
Backed by passionate investors who believe in inspiring tomorrow’s tech leaders
Individual Republic investors now have an opportunity to join all of the passionate investors that have been with us since inception.
Allowing everyday investors to become our advocates
Thimble has big plans for the future of STEM education. Our use of funds for this raise is simple:
Hire more people to accelerate kit and curriculum design across all grade levels to keep up with demand that will increase revenue
Expand inbound/outbound marketing
Build out a more robust sales team
Our goal is to serve 10,000 schools during the next 3 years.
Passionate about STEM education reform & dedicated to reaching the underserved
Oscar Pedroso—Founder / CEO, Thimble (Buffalo, NY)
Oscar Pedroso is a steadfast entrepreneur who built Thimble from the ground up, while working part-time as a restaurant server and math tutor. He is the founder of Thimble, an education-tech startup making technology education more accessible to kids—particularly girls, students of color, and kids with special needs.
Launched as part of the most successful Kickstarter in Buffalo, NY in 2015, Thimble has reached 20,000 students and 500 teachers in both public/charter schools and homeschools. Thimble has been featured in Fast Company, TechCrunch, Vice, and Forbes.
In March 2017, Oscar won 1st place at SXSW Startup Pitch Competition in the Innovative World category. In 2020, Oscar was a top-five finalist for pitching in Harlem Capital More Equity Pitch Competition and is a graduate of Telluride Venture Accelerator, Learn Launch Accelerator, Halcyon Incubator, AT&T Aspire Accelerator, Seed Spot, StartOut Growth Labs for LGBTQ+ founders, and Y-Combinator’s Startup School.
Oscar is a first-generation high school and college graduate, and entrepreneur. His parents hail from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. He entered the education world working as a college admissions officer at the University of Rochester, where he also studied math and economics.
He taught middle school math for 3 years before starting his own tutoring and application consulting business to help students get into the school of their dreams. After observing the many disparities in education, he built GradFly—an online project journal designed to help STEM students document their projects, which he grew to 10,000 students nationwide. Oscar is also a mentor for middle and high school students, having served as a robotics advisor for LEGO Mindstorm and FIRST Robotics teams.
Oscar and his co-founder, Joel Cilli, are on a mission to make tech education more accessible. In 2020, Thimble introduced live and on-demand robotics and coding classes for kids affected by the global pandemic. That same year, Oscar partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo and University of Buffalo's Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP). This partnership with Thimble served to encourage minority and economically disadvantaged high school students to pursue careers in medicine and other health related professions.
In 2018, Thimble received a Spark Grant from Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to create a hands-on engineering program for disadvantaged communities in Buffalo, NY. Oscar has also pitched on the TechCrunch Disrupt stage as part of Startup Battlefield in New York City.
Led by a team as diverse and passionate about education as the parents, teachers, and students we serve
Oscar Pedroso - Founder / CEO, Thimble (Buffalo, NY)
Oscar Pedroso built Thimble from the ground up, while working as a restaurant server and part-time math tutor. He is the Founder and CEO of Thimble - an education-tech business helping students learn robotics, coding, and other technology skills not taught in most schools. Started from scratch in 2015 as part of a Kickstarter campaign, Thimble has served over 20,000 students, 500 teachers, and delivered kits in all 50 states and 30 countries. Oscar graduated from the University of Rochester with degrees in Math and Economics, and serves as a mentor to students involved in FIRST Robotics and LEGO Mindstorms teams. He speaks Spanish and French fluently.
Joel Cilli—Cofounder / Curriculum & Innovation (Pittsburgh, PA)
Joel has been an online teacher for 10 years, specializing in 3D printing, circuit building, and coding for physical computing. As a kid he wanted to build robots and make video games, but his parents and teachers didn’t know how to teach him these things. After being in online education, he joined Thimble as cofounder to help students discover the thrill of engineering. He assists with live build-along sessions, professional development, kit creation, lesson writing, and market strategy. In his spare time, he enjoys comic books, board games, and woodworking. Joel has a 3-year boy named James who already enjoys tinkering with electronics.
Patti DiRosa—Student & Teacher Support (Buffalo, NY)
Patti joined Thimble in 2017 and brings over 7 years of experience in customer support, professional development, fulfillment, shipping, and supply chain management. Patti also ensures schools are onboarded onto our platform with ease, and helps train non-STEM educators to ensure they feel comfortable teaching Thimble’s STEM curriculum in various environments. In her spare time, she enjoys music, traveling, and making wine.
Mark Bandy—Online Instructor (Los Angeles, CA)
Mark runs Thimble’s live build-along classes during weekday evenings. He has a degree in Biomedical engineering from the University of Mississippi. Mark is fascinated with microprocessors and spends his time using microcontrollers such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Mark also has a passion for working with disadvantaged communities and finding ways to make tech education more accessible through neighborhood and community-based programs like the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brother, Big Sister programs.
Rayna Yaker—School Procurement Specialist (Denver, CO)
Rayna joined the team in 2020. She is Managing Principal Consultant of RYE Consulting and specializes in procurement. Her background includes a J.D. in Education Policy and M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction, K-12. Her foundation in education is built upon her experience as a Title 1 classroom teacher and made actionable by over a decade of work in publishing and policy fields. Rayna focuses on engaging clients from Pre-K through Workforce Development, providing support for schools, districts, foundations, and advocacy organizations.
Rebecca Gray—Marketing & Content (Pittsburgh, PA)
Rebecca spearheads marketing and curriculum lesson writing for Thimble’s lesson library. Rebecca has a BA in Elementary and Special Needs Education from Geneva College. She also manages Thimble’s blog, and is hellbent on writing about topics that improve teachers’ experience in and out of the classroom. She’s certified in Library Media Science and has 10+ years in a classroom setting. She’s also a proud mother of three with an unhealthy Harry Potter obsession.