Founding Student Name(s): Maximilian Goetz
Brief Description of Solution: Robotics For All is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides equitable educational opportunities to students in underserved communities. Robotics For All offers in-person and online robotics, programming, and engineering courses for K-12 grade students. These courses are offered after school, have 1-2 classes/week, and typically run for 8 weeks. Class offerings include: Scratch, Python, TinkerCAD, Snap Circuits, and VEX.
What led you to launch this venture? As a 9th grader, I worked with second-grade student Antonio while tutoring for Reading Partners, a non-profit which aims to help students who are behind in reading. Antonio told me many stories of how he didn’t have opportunities that are often taken for granted, such as having LEGOs at home. It inspired me to research the issue and I found a startling hole in afterschool STEM programs at underserved schools. Understanding the importance of STEM skills, I wanted to make a larger impact in the lives of students like Antonio. I then founded Robotics For All in April 2017 and registered it as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization in October 2018.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Our biggest accomplishment so far with Robotics For All has been the scale at which we have been able to grow our operations. Since our inception, we have taught over 2000 students and have a nation-wide volunteer base of over 300 volunteers. The COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of online classes really enabled us to expand our operations. Since we were no longer geographically limited, we were able to go from increase the number of volunteers and subsequently the number of students we served by a 10x factor.
How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? My Business and Global Affairs major has helped me gain valuable insights into many aspects of business. When I started Robotics For All in high school, I had to learn how to build a business experientially. My business major has enabled me to take classes such as marketing, accounting, and business analytics. The skills that I have gained from those has not only helped me in the every-day running of the organization, but also helped me formulate my vision.
Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? My first-year seminar class, which was focused on the “people” aspect of a business, was most valuable in building Robotics For All. As an organization entirely run by over 300 volunteers, one of my most important roles is motivating and leading our volunteers. The class taught me how to deal with people of different personality types, recognize how to motivate volunteers, and improve our hiring processes overall.
What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Professor Michael O’Leary, who happened to be the instructor for the first-year seminar class, has been a strong supporter of Robotics For All. He helped connect us to valuable resources in the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, including their director Professor Jeff Reid. Additionally, he has provided us with advice and feedback on our vision and initiatives such as leadership training.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? My long-term goal for Robotics For All is to expand to even more low-income communities with a post-COVID hybrid model. Pre-COVID, we only had in-person classes. Our online classes were only introduced as a result of COVID. Going forward, we plan to expand on a hybrid model with both class types. In-person classes enable us to provide a more interactive learning experience, but we need a localized volunteer base. Our online classes enable us to reach any community anywhere, regardless of student or volunteer geography. In the post-COVID world, our goal is to continue expanding to reach as many low-income communities as we can.