I recently had the pleasure of meeting Piazza founder Pooja Sankar and learned how her struggles in school inspired her to build an online question-and-answer platform for students to learn together. During our discussion, Pooja shared her story of feeling isolated in her studies and how that empowered her to learn Ruby on Rails and build a prototype that she pitched directly to professors.
While in business school at Stanford, Pooja identified the lack of peer learning in the collegiate system and followed her passion for solving it. It was there that she listened to other founders’ stories and realized that taking on the wrong co-founder could result in a company or vision that wasn’t hers. Pooja explained that she “hadn’t met anyone who could share that empathy that I had from my undergrad days” nor could she find an engineer who shared her passion to build it. So she spent the summer after her first year of business school building it herself.
Today we have well over 75 percent of Stanford, MIT, Cornell, Princeton, Harvard undergrads using Piazza for their classes online over two hours a night, and that is the way that they connect with the rest of their class, their TAs, their professors and learn together. So it’s really exciting.
Editor’s Note: Michael Abbott is a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, previously Twitter’s VP of Engineering, and a founder himself. Mike also writes a blog called uncapitalized. You can follow him on Twitter @mabb0tt.
Pooja Sankar (nee Nath) is the CEO of Piazza. Prior to Piazza, Pooja worked at Facebook on their News Feed Team. She was also a developer at Kosmix and a developer at Oracle. She received her Undergraduate degree in CS from IIT Kanpur (India), a Masters in CS from University of Maryland, College Park, and an MBA at Stanford GSB.