Senthilvasan Wide

Harini Senthilvasan: STEAM Education Made More Affordable

Would you like to develop your children’s mindset and problem-solving skills?

Developing the ability of your kids to do problem-solving and critical-thinking is important especially if they’re in their younger stages. It’s also equally important to have your children’s mindset focused on an end goal. Although there are several organizations that offer these sorts of training, most of these come with a steep price.

Marshmallow Minds is a non-profit Design and Project Based Learning Institute with the mission to provide an affordable and accessible Design Thinking and STE(A)M education.

“We wanted to set up as a nonprofit is because we wanted to partner with public schools, and make design thinking and steam education more accessible and affordable.” – Harini

Harini Senthilvasan is the founder and CEO of Marshmallow Minds, a world-class distinguished Design and Project Based Learning Institute where children between grades K-8 of all abilities, can empathize with real-world problems, explore STE(A)M and engineer innovative solutions through Design Thinking and build their creative confidence.

Learn more how Marshmallow Minds can be a part of your children’s development by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on  Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of, where we turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. So we believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. Even you stick around to the end of this show, where I'll share info on how you could be our next guest, three times a week, five to 15 minutes each learn from successful business owners and professionals. It's time to get inspired. Let's go. Harini Senthilvasan, you're the founder and CEO of Marshmallow Minds. Thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you for inviting me for this podcast.

So you're in Sunnyvale, is that correct? That's correct. Okay. And you developed a program that is it in school? Is it only in school? Or do you also have after school programs and where you bring steam and STEM education into schools? And can you kind of explain how you operate?

Sure. So we primarily do in school programs, we have one, where we cater from kindergarten through third grade, which is like a 45 minutes to an hour and a half lessons in the school during classrooms. And we also have from fourth through eighth grade versus like a whole day. Design hackathon kind of an event where we bring steam and design thinking. So we work with the public schools, we enter into a contract with them, and then they incorporate our curriculum into their everyday classroom experience.

So you are a nonprofit? How did you decide to go that direction?

One of the reasons we wanted to set up as a nonprofit is because we wanted to partner with public schools, and make design thinking and steam education more accessible and affordable. Now, design thinking is a method of innovation that comes from Stanford, and today, live the price not like a very few private schools use design thinking as a means to differentiate their schools from the rest. Now what's special about design thinking is it starts with empathy, which is a very strong human value. So our idea was to bring an entity based team education as opposed to giving all the focus into technology. So it is a human centered steam education. And I believe that empathy should be the focus of education for children because if empathy is in the DNA from a very young age, you're likely to have a better future.

So her any your background, you worked at Texas Instruments, movie, com slash Qualcomm, Broadcom? I mean, you've got a, you know, you've got a corporate America background tech background. How did you decide to make this this switch to starting your own nonprofit?

Well, that's right. So 15 years, I've been in the in a tech sector. And then in 2015, I got this opportunity to go to Stanford and do a program where I was introduced to design thinking. So the design thinking and the entrepreneurial nature of that program really, kind of led me to finding this or founding this nonprofit organization. And what happened, I've always been interested in education, because of children we have and you know, all the volunteering opportunities, but after getting the exposure to design thinking, I just could see that there's a way to do things better in the classroom, just by bringing that empathy element and leveraging the engineering experience I have. So yeah, it was just that strong feeling that we can do things better. And I was very fortunate to have great school leader who encouraged my ideas. And we kind of seeded the idea she gave the space and it grew into a beautiful garden. And now a lot of people want what we're doing. And it's been very fulfilling to kind of do this and leverage everything I've done in the past, but make it tangible to young children, and,

you know, make the community a better community through this program.

So obviously stood up my influence, you know, we focus a lot on helping companies increase their visibility, their authority, you know, help them connect with influencers and media. And so one thing that I have a question about, and I know that others would have a question about would be how do you grow and scale a non-profit?

Well, one of the models that we are adopting in terms of scaling is called a booth model, where booth stands for bring operate an ownership transfer. So we have created the curriculum, we kind of we kind of the public schools, look at us, like the home team. So to our programs, curriculum and methodology, we are augmenting and empowering public schools, leveraging resources judiciously, as opposed to creating a powerless system and letting the public schools lose their luster. So schools want what we are doing, but they don't know how to, but we have kind of created that and now bring it operated. And then we do the ownership transfer or lessons are creative commons license, so you know, only attribution. So we want to make that scaling easy for schools. That's one way. The other way is we, as we engage with the schools, we mindfully strengthen the community based volunteers to be instructors and coaches, which is very critical in the steam. You know, when it comes to see, now the thing we're doing is we are now design thinking and steam is where we live in, you know, like we are in the in the hub of all the technology. Right, so the one of the key things for scaling is partnership with private organizations. So there's a you know, we do try to connect with organizations such as Intuit, which is big into design thinking Sysco Google. So that's the next phase of like, as we scale, we go to these organizations, we bring them into the picture. And we try to create programs, which benefits everybody in the community, and we can all grow together.

So it sounds like a lot of networking and a lot of just making connections and sharing your vision and, and your one thing Hurry, I appreciate is that you know, as a nonprofit, you've committed to creating a program where I believe you said the cost per student is as little as $5 per hour, which is wonderful, which makes it very accessible. So that's, that's really great. You're making a great impact in the world. And, and I want to thank you so much for sharing your story. It's gonna be fun to watch your marshmallow and a rainy center of the sun. You are the founder and CEO, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you Josh for this opportunity. Thanks for listening to the thoughtful entrepreneur. If you are a thoughtful entrepreneur or business professional who would like to be a media celebrity and be on our show. Please visit up my influence comm slash guest. And while you're at it, take our free quiz and learn your authority score that's available for you right now at pop my influence comm slash quiz. And please do us a favor. If you liked the guests that was just interviewed. Would you share this episode on social media. Also, in your podcast player right now, please give us a thumbs up or a rating and review. We promise to read it all and take action. So we believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. Your feedback helps us fulfill our mission to help create more media celebrities. Make sure to hit subscribe, binge listen to our previous episodes. And we'll send you the next episode three times a week automatically five to 15 minutes exactly what you need to inspire yourself just a little bit more, learn from others and grow. With that. Thanks for listening and thank you for being a part of the thoughtful entrepreneur revolution.

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