Thimble teaches kids STEM skills with robotics kits combined with live Zoom classes

Parents with kids stuck learning at home during the pandemic have had to look for alternative activities to promote the hands-on learning experiences kids are missing out on due to attending class virtually. The New York-based educational technology startup Thimble aims to help address this problem by offering a subscription service for STEM-based projects that allow kids to make robotics, electronics and other tech using a combination of kits shipped to the home and live online instruction.

Thimble began back in 2016 as Kickstarter project when it raised $ 300,000 in 45 days to develop its STEM-based robotics and programming kits. The next year, it then began selling its kits to schools, largely in New York, for use in the classroom or in after-school programs. Over the years that followed, Thimble scaled its customer base to include around 250 schools across New York, Pennsylvania, and California, who would buy the kits and gain access to teacher training.

But the COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of Thimble’s business.

“A lot of schools were in panic mode. They were not sure what was happening, and so their spending was frozen for some time,” explains Thimble co-founder and CEO Oscar Pedroso, whose background is in education. “Even our top customers that I would call, they would just give [say], ‘hey, this is not a good time. We think we’re going to be closing schools down.”

Pedroso realized that the company would have to quickly pivot to begin selling directly to parents instead.

Image Credits: Thimble

Around April, it made the shift — effectively entering the B2C market for the first time.

The company today offers parents a subscription that allows them to receive up to 15 different STEM-focused project kits and a curriculum that includes live instruction from an educator. One kit is shipped out over the course of three months, though an accelerated program is available that ships with more frequency.

The first kit is basic electronics where kids learn how to build simple circuits, like a doorbell, kitchen timer and a music composer, for example. The kit is designed so kids can experience “quick wins” to keep their attention and whet their appetite for more projects. This leads into future kits like those offering a Wi-Fi robot, a little drone, an LED compass that lights up, and a synthesizer that lets kids become their own D.J.

Image Credits: Thimble

While any family can use the kits to help kids experience hands-on electronics and robotics, Pedroso says that about 70% of subscribers are those where the child already has a knack for doing these sorts of projects. The remaining 30% are those where the parents are looking to introduce the concepts of robotics and programming, to see if the kids show an interest. Around 40% of the students are girls.

The subscription is more expensive than some DIY projects at $ 59.99/per month (or $ 47.99/mo if paid annually), but this is because it includes live instruction in the form of weekly 1-hour Zoom classes. Thimble has part-time employees who are not just able to understand teach the material, but can do so in a way that appeals to children — by being passionate, energetic and capable of jumping in to help if they sense a child is having an issue or getting frustrated. Two of the five teachers are women. One instructor is bilingual and teaches some classes in Spanish.

During class, one teacher instructs while a second helps moderate the chat room and answer the questions that kids ask in there.

The live classes will have around 15-20 students each, but Thimble additionally offers a package for small groups that reduces class size. These could be used by homeschool “pods” or other groups.

Image Credits: Thimble

“We started hearing from pods and then micro-schools,” notes Pedroso. “Those were parents who were connected to other parents, and wanted their kids to be part of the same class. They generally required a little bit more attention and wanted some things a little more customized,” he added.

These subscriptions are more expensive at $ 250/month, but the cost is shared among the group of parents, which brings the price down on per-household basis. Around 10% of the total customer base is on this plan, as most customers are individual families.

Thimble also works with several community programs and nonprofits in select markets that help to subsidize the cost of the kits to make the subscriptions more affordable. These are announced, as available, through schools, newsletters, and other marketing efforts.

Since pivoting to subscriptions, Thimble has re-established a customer base and now has 1,110 paid customers. Some, however, are grandfathered in to an earlier price point, so Thimble needs to scale the business further.

In addition to the Kickstarter, Thimble has raised funds and worked on the business over the year with the help of multiple accelerators, including LearnLaunch in Boston, Halcyon in D.C., and Telluride Venture Accelerator in Colorado.

The startup, co-founded by Joel Cilli in Pittsburgh, is now around 60% closed on its seed round of $ 1 million, but isn’t announcing details of that at this time.




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Health Tech is, simply, the use of technology in healthcare. Yep, that simple.  It’s a broad field that has developed over time from being a term applied to things like electronic GP records systems, medical appliances, and computer software in radiology. 

In 2020, health tech includes the apps available today for accessing a GP via video call, machine learning algorithms for classifying medical images, and artificial intelligence, to name a few. All of which were incredibly valuable in the last 12 months, in the wake of the global pandemic. 

The European healthtech startup sector is booming and is becoming more and more popular for aspiring talent looking for a new challenge. So, if you’re someone looking to enter this industry, what kind of skills do you need?

AI/ Machine Learning

AI is a concept that is growing across all industries, from beauty and fashion to FinTech – but it’s making major moves in health. Artificial intelligence is being used in healthcare to emulate human cognition in the analysis, interpretation, and comprehension of complex medical and healthcare data. The widespread use of AI in healthcare is relatively new, meaning that it’s a real growth area. If you have any AI skills, you’ll get snapped up by a heathtech startup! 


Startups view data as an essential decision-making tool. There is a shortage of highly analytical people who know what to measure, how to measure, and how to interpret data. This skill is in high demand across disciplines from the product, marketing and technology, to the specialist data scientists. If you’ve got experience crunching numbers, then you’re a hot commodity! 

Technical Skills

Developers are still the most sought after hires at startups. Some degree of technical literacy is a hugely positive sign across other positions. More and more marketers are expected to have some basic technical proficiency and design abilities. Brushing up on HTML and Photoshop will be a massive benefit to you. Also, people in product and sales positions will need at least a conversational understanding of what is going on under the hood in order to be effective in their jobs.

Growth Skills

Marketing and social media positions at tech startups receive loads of applications, but so many of them lack some really crucial qualifications. Startup marketing often happens in an environment with a pretty tight budget, so marketers should be able to demonstrate hustle, technical skills, content skills and an understanding of SEO. Most importantly of all, you’ll need a deep appreciation of how to engineer and drive growth through diverse channels and the product itself.

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Venture capital firms or funds invest in early-stage companies in exchange for equity, or an ownership stake. Venture capitalists take on the risk of financing risky startups in the hopes that some of the firms they support will become successful. It’s an extremely exciting thing to be a part of, but it also takes a specific kind of person. Like almost all jobs and industries, VC isn’t for everyone. Have a read of the following skills to see if you’ve got what it takes…


Remember, a lot of the time, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. This couldn’t be more relevant when it comes to the Venture Capital sector. A Venture Capitalist needs to be able to strategically network, and use said network to open doors for their firm and portfolio companies. 

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) is defined as the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Strong emotional intelligence allows venture capitalists to evaluate the states of their portfolio companies. It helps them to read between the lines and identify the values and motivations of their founding teams. Plus, it empowers them to develop strong levels of trust and effectively act as advisors.

Be a brand

According to venture capital powerhouse 8VC, one of the most important skills a venture capitalist can have is the ability to be a brand creator. The most successful VCs are vigilant about constantly building and nurturing a brand and a community that welcomes new and existing portfolio companies.

Risk Taker

This really comes with the territory folks. By definition, a venture capitalist is a private equity investor that provides capital to companies exhibiting high growth potential in exchange for an equity stake. The keyword here is ‘potential’ – not every investment will work out, so there’s always a risk. If the idea of possibly losing money unsettles you greatly, then you may want to consider a different path. 


In the VC business, the word ‘maybe’ just doesn’t come into play! There are two choices in this world; you either pass on a deal or invest in one. Finding a balance between gut-based decisions and methodical/data-oriented decisions is at the core of what a Venture Capitalist does daily. This is especially important if you are the lead investor on a round, because if you can’t make a decision quick, another fund may beat you to it.

By Rebecca O’Keeffe, Content Creator, Jobbio.

Take note of the above, and you & you’ll get your dream role in no time! Oh, and be sure to keep an eye on Silicon Canals’ Jobs, for loads of exciting opportunities.

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