Charles Frey ’19 Explore Interactive – With the help of Career Services, a class of 2017 graduate, and a gracious Board of Trustees member, I was able to fly out to Massachusetts for a week to experience the early life and research side of an American start-up. When I asked Wesley Virt, class of ’17 and Founder of Explore Interactive, if I could help with his educational technology start-up last March, I did not realize what I would be stepping into. In two short months I would be conducting research for customer discovery in Boston and incorporating educational pedagogy into the Explore! platform.
Before I continue, let me explain a few things:
I am an English Major.
My minor is in Education and French.
I’ve never considered myself an entrepreneur.
So why travel to Massachusetts to do research for an educational technology start-up?
Leading up to the trip, I was having trouble finding direction in many aspects of my life. That’s not to say I didn’t have plans or goals. I had those, and still do. Looking back, no goal was set in stone, and were formed with little backing besides my interests and hobbies from high school. My attitude on the future since senior year; laissez-faire at its best, wishy-washy at its worst.
After the trip, I was more focused, energized, and passionate than any other time in my life.
Our home for the week was generously offered by Mr. Jay Williams, class of ’66 and Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse advisory board member. My first interviewing stop was the local library. The interview goals were to understand how parents and educators interact with technology in the classroom and at home.
It was at the public library that I interviewed Cathy. We discussed the psychology of Disney movies (don’t let your little ones watch Lion King—too much trauma), the influence of peers in school (they mean the world to a student between 4th and 8th grade), and the importance of making education fun (“gamify” is the word we used most often). I learned quickly that the woman I was speaking with was a child psychologist from Harvard.
The best part? She only volunteers at the library once a week.
Our happenstance meeting reshaped the team’s pedagogical approach to content creation, and continues to impact the start-up today. The conversation certainly left an impact on me.
This research opportunity allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and step into the world of entrepreneurship. For that alone, I’m grateful to Wabash. As the name of Wesley’s start-up suggests, I was able to explore this summer.
Explore Boston. Explore entrepreneurship. Explore my passions.