This school dropout is busy taking education to the next generation
- 04 April 2017
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Asad Dhamani was in the tenth standard (equivalent to the tenth grade) when he landed a contract with his school to redesign the kindergarten section’s website. He had caught the attention of his principal in a novel way; two years earlier, he had hacked the website of his Jain International School in Nagpur, a city in the central Indian state of Maharashtra, to show that it was not secure enough.
In 2012, two years after the kindergarten website job earned him widespread praise in the newspapers, Asad developed an electronic voting system to elect the school captain. Soon, he got an appointment with the principal and presented a proposal to redesign the website, making it more relevant, interesting and fun for the children. The teenager’s teachers weren’t surprised when he won the contract. They were well aware of his exploits.
The 19-year-old is now co-founder of The Climber, an education startup. Asad also helped develop its main product, Mycaptain, which enables young graduates with outstanding achievements in their fields to mentor and guide high-school and college students who have similar aspirations.
It was not just that Asad was a student of the school that helped him bag the contract; the school’s principal was impressed with his accomplishments. He had already created an operating system (OS) that had went on to be downloaded 30,000 times. “Most of the other operating systems needed customers to keep upgrading; this means you will keep buying new computers. But my OS could give a new lease of life to the computer,” said Asad. But he dropped the project after realising that it was becoming much bigger than he had envisioned and needed more hands.
Asad, who had founded his first startup at the age of 13, didn’t monetise his products, intending them to be learning experiences. “I have always liked to learn by experimenting,” he said. He would have an idea and dive into the execution without waiting to first understand the theory behind it.
He didn’t want to lose time and focus in learning anything else, and so he dropped out of school in the 11th standard. “I already had a vision of what I wanted to do in life. Therefore, I decided to drop out instead of spending six years in education: in school, college.” His parents were well aware of their son’s passion for technology and backed him.
But the youngster was academically inclined as well and read about 5,000 articles on technology. That is how he got the idea for his next product. In the library, one could bookmark, leave and come back to continue reading; on the internet, there were limitations on this. To overcome this problem, Asad and a friend created a product that helped internet surfers bookmark a page. They named the product Crestify, promising “intelligent bookmarking.”
In early 2016, Asad joined a startup that was building a project to create a version of Google. His vision of the product didn’t match that of the company, so he quit. That was when he met his childhood friend Mohammed Zeeshan, who had co-founded TheClimber. “He needed a tech guy and I kind of fit the bill,” said Asad.
Asad has no plans to stop at MyCaptain, “We are now building a product for tenth-grade children that will help them wisely choose subjects for high school,” he said. Passionate about artificial intelligence, Asad envisions its use in education, a field that he is deeply interested in. “AI can fine-tune learning according to a child’s interest and capability. This kind of technology will be in vogue five years from now,” he said.