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World’s fastest human calculator built Bhanzu to rid kids of math phobia

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Edtech startup Bhanzu is ridding children of math phobia. The company was founded by the fastest human calculator in the world, Neelakantha Bhanu.

The pessimism and dread surrounding the edtech business, which experienced fast development during the epidemic, has grown more acute in recent months. Apart from financial issues, edtech businesses such as BYJU-owned WhiteHat Jr, Unacademy, and Vedantu have had substantial layoffs in recent months. Lido Learning, a Ronnie Screwvala-backed edtech business, filed for bankruptcy earlier in September 2022.

But, Bhanzu, a worldwide math learning platform, earned $15 million in a Series A financing headed by Eight Roads Ventures and B Capital last week. How did Bhanzu acquire investor faith at a time when everyone is cautious?

Karan Mohla, Partner at B Capital, stated, “We feel that Bhanzu is addressing a significant barrier for pupils and providing every child with an entertaining math learning experience. Bhanzu was founded to instill a love of math via creative learning methodologies and to establish itself as the world’s most thought-through holistic math curriculum.”

Mathematical anxiety affects both adults and children worldwide. The word math phobia was coined in the 1950s by Mary Fides Gough to characterize the phobia-like sentiments that many people have toward mathematics.

In November 2020, Neelakantha Bhanu, the “World’s Fastest Human Calculator,” decided to establish his math learning platform to help youngsters aged 5 to 16 overcome this anxiety.

Neelakantha, who the BBC reportedly claimed “is to math (mental calculation) what Usain Bolt is to sprinting,” won gold for India at the 2020 Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO).

In 2017, at the age of 17, he was named the world’s fastest human calculator, defeating math masters such as Scott Flansburg and Shakuntala Devi. After achieving the quickest human calculator record, Neelakantha began doing stage presentations and teaching arithmetic to children in 20 countries. During this period, he observed that three out of every four youngsters had a math phobia. He was “concerned” as a math enthusiast.

Neelakantha decided to take on the challenge and began developing a comprehensive math curriculum that exposes topics to students through unique learning methodologies and immersive online courses. “At Bhanzu, we are instilling in pupils a culture of questioning the foundational concepts of math,” Neelakantha explains.

Students are terrified of mathematics, which not only affects their academic performance but also prevents them from pursuing employment in STEM industries where math is essential. Math has been taught to children as a topic in which they must memorize equations, solve problems, and score points.

Neelakantha says, “We want children to fall in love with math rather than merely consider it as a school topic. This improves their problem-solving ability and cognitive capacities, eventually leading to an improvement in their numeracy skills.”

The Hyderabad-based startup’s original issue statement was that youngsters should be more interested about math as a subject rather than shying away from it, let alone being terrified of it.

The idea is to create a curriculum that makes math more enjoyable, participatory, and intriguing. In 2019, Neelakantha assembled a small team (the present co-founding team of Bhanzu) to test his unique approaches in various government schools and non-governmental organizations. The team began applying these concepts in hundreds of public schools together. During this time, the team performed assessments, examined data points, and altered students’ learning paths. Bhanzu’s crew now numbers 400 people.

Bhanzu has created experiential math lessons that are focused on tales and conceptual knowledge and are appropriate for all pupils.

Neelakantha adds, “Bhanzu has created a number of variations on our present math program. When we first started with our pilot programs, we struggled to communicate with students because they thought our approach was counter-intuitive.”

Bhanzu is now looking to improve the technology infrastructure to provide an exceptional user experience, expand the staff, and enrich the curriculum. 

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