TECHdotMN TV short: TEKNE + Sophia

by The TECHdotMN Team


Mike Bollinger (MB): …we just found out that Sophia Learning was the winner for the Edutech division of the 2011 TEKNE Awards.  We’re here with Don Smithmier, CEO of that company. Don, congratulations!

Don Smithmier (DS): thank you Mike!

MB: Tell me a little bit about what you guys are doing?

DS: Sophia has a pretty simple goal, and that is to flip the student teacher ratio.  Instead of 30 students for every student, we’re trying to create 30 teachers for every student.  We’re doing that with a social education platform where anybody can step into the role of a teacher and teach something that they know to a student trying to understand that concept.

MB: And you guys have been making a lot of traction lately, you announced recently that you have a partnership with Pearson.

DS: Yup, we have a partnership with Pearson in their tutoring division, Smarthinking, so that when people are on the Sophia platform if they’re still in need of help from a one to one live tutor, they can reach out to Smartthinking tutor via Pearson and get that help.

MB: What’s next?

DS: This award is nice.  These things…they really matter. It especially matters for people that come to work for a startup Edutech company like ourselves, that’s a risk for people, they could be working at bigger companies and safer companies.

So I think it’s really important when people come to work for a company like Sophia to be acknowledged by a community like this and say ‘the work that you’re doing is really important and it’s really well done’. It goes a long way for morale and to further fuel the spirit. So this is great.

And what’s coming next is we really feel like we’re getting some traction in what we’re doing.  We’re getting more and more users from all over the world — 170 countries and counting, couple thousand different institutions…and we really think that we can fundamentally impact how people learn in the US and around the world.

MB: Contrats on the award, well deserved.

DS: Thanks Mike.