Osman Rashid, co-founder and former CEO of textbook rental service Chegg, as well as Intel-acquired interactive textbook platform Kno, is announcing his next startup, Galxyz.
The idea is still related to education, but otherwise it sounds like a pretty big departure. Galxyz (it’s pronounced “galaxies”, and it’s a nightmare to spell) is building a science-focused game for tablets and smartphones. And the company really is just focused on one game — Rashid described it as “an intergalactic science adventure,” one that kids could potentially play for years, battling a villain called King Dullard across the galaxies. As they do so, they’re also learning about science at their own pace.
Apparently the idea came to Rashid as he saw his own children playing educational games, which he found lacking in several ways. He said they weren’t engaging enough, the content wasn’t deep enough, or they required the parents to get involved in order for the kids to advance. That second point is why he’s focusing on a single title — so that kids can just keep playing rather than running out of material after a few weeks.
Rashid also said that the gameplay will be integrated with the actual learning. In other words, players don’t read a bunch of material, then play a generic game that tests them on their knowledge. For example, he said that to help kids learn about gravity and related concepts in one of the early mini-games, players will actually have to use different forces to defeat their enemy.
The content is designed to support the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards, and the company has partnered with the New York Academy of Science to test the game out over the summer, with the full launch planned for September.
The game is supposed to be playable by students from 3rd to 12th grade. Rashid said the real target audience is 3rd through 6th grade, but he added, “We don’t have the concept of grade — we have the concept of levels.” In other words, the game never asks players for their grade level. Everyone starts in the same place, then the more advanced students should be able to pass through the early stages of the game more quickly.
The initial release will be aimed directly at consumers, with the goal of eventually creating versions for schools too. The business model is still being figured out, Rashid said. He did assure me that even though he doesn’t want parental approval to interrupt gameplay, it will be the parents who have make any purchases (which is part of the business challenge).
Galxyz is backed by Relay Ventures, Andresseen Horowitz, and Emerson Collective.