How the world’s fastest human calculator turned entrepreneur is aiming to eradicate ‘math phobia’ in children

Math, as it has been for generations past, remains a daunting subject for many children. However, with technology and startups tackling this phobia, students have several resources to learn from. Based in Hyderabad edtech math startup Bhanzu is also one of these platforms.

Founded in November 2020 by the fastest human calculator in the world – Neelakantha Bhanu PrakashBhanzu offers experiential online math learning lessons for children ages 5-16.

In February this year, the startup raised its $2 million seed round directed by Lightspeed Venture Partners. In addition, it has benefited from the active participation of prominent angel investors such as Nitin Gupta, CEO of Uni; Maninder Gulati, Global CSO at Oyo; Ashish Gupta, former doctor of Helion; Gaurav Munjal, CEO of an academy; Kunal Shah, CEO of CRED and Biswa Kalyan Rath, the famous stand-up comedian.

Speaking of platform, Bhanu, 22, says“Through Bhanzu, we aim to eradicate math phobia and encourage careers in math and STEM fields among learners around the world.”

The entrepreneurial journey

As a child, Bhanu was always interested in mathematics. His parents also introduced him to math puzzles at a tender age, which gave Bhanu the opportunity to break out of the linear way of learning math.

He says it took a lot of deliberate and consistent practice to get better and faster at math.

“When I started I was competing in Speed ​​Math contests and I wasn’t even in the top 10. I had to seriously think about my failures, hone my skills and keep showing up every day. “, recalls Bhanu.

At the age of thirteenhe pocketed the title of India’s fastest human calculator. Eventually, the same ethic of consistent practice and constructive reflection helped him become the The fastest human calculator in the world at age 15, breaking the world record of math legends like Shakuntala Devi and Scott Flansburg.

The journey to become the fastest human calculator in the world opened several opportunities for Bhanu.

He says he has visited many countries and spoken to students from all over the world. It was then that he discovered that fear of math is actively prevalent in about three out of four children.

As an inspiration to many, Bhanu has chosen to step out of his comfort zone to create a cognitive curriculum that will make learning math a more fun and relevant experience for students.

While pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, he performed in over 500 stage shows and successfully conducted over 1,000 classes.

Bhanu interacted and addressed students from Commonwealth nations and audiences from 23 countries.

titled as the “Usain Bolt of Mathematics” per BBC News, Bhanu has been invited on several occasions by TEDx Talks to share his journey of exploring and learning mathematics.

In 2019, Bhanu formed a small team (the current co-founding team of Bhanzu) to experiment with his proprietary mathematical techniques in various public schools and NGOs. Together, the team began implementing these ideas in hundreds of public schools in an attempt to solve this problem.

During this time, the team conducted assessments, reviewed data points, and changed the learning trajectory for students.

These are some of my experiences that greatly helped Bhanu conceptualize a commercial edtech entity.

The YS design team

The current curriculum on the platform is heavily shaped by these findings. Now, Bhanzu has developed experiential math education based on stories and conceptual understanding that works for all students.

He was also the first Indian and Asian to win the gold medal at the 2020 World Mental Calculation Championship at the Mind Sports Olympics in London.

Bhanu also broke four world records and 50 Limca book records in several categories in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

During the COVID-19 wave, Bhanu and his startup became the official math partner of the government of Telangana (in 2020) and taught math to students via recorded math videos which were broadcast on the government TV channel of Telangana. Telangana (T-SAT).

Bhanzu claims to have helped more than two million children through his social projects with local state governments in India during the pandemic

The core team

With a team of over 200 members, Bhanu is the founder and CEO of Bhanzu. Its core team is made up of Prachotan DL co-founder and head of business development; Ouday Kiran, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer; Krishnakanth, Co-founder and head of research and development and Srinivas Jonnalagadda; Co-founder and Project Manager).

Bhanzu Core Team

Helping Students Overcome Fear of Maths

The startup claims that its courses make students 4 times faster in math by developing organic methodologies in students in significantly less time.

“Our personalized learning trajectories allowing students to explore coding, AI/ML, science and other social science areas are growing in popularity as parents slowly move towards centered learning. results rather than tutorials like coding courses that lack rigor and depth. “says the founder.

Bhanzu offers live online classes where a teacher, who is personally trained by Bhanu, teaches students fun stories and engaging activities. The program is a sequence of conceptual modules.

Each module has specific tangible outcomes where a child gradually develops cognitive skills, excels academically and most importantly learns relevant math in STEM fields to reach the heights of this current world and become a future leader in life. ‘opinion.

Economic model and traction

Target students between 5 and 16 years oldthe price of Bhanzu courses varies between Rs 14,999 and Rs 64,999.

The startup says it caters to more than 30,000 students and parents. He served around the world, including India, and the countries of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Bhanzu plans to expand to other countries this year.

The path to follow

The company is currently focused on building its technology platform and acquiring customers.

Currently running classes via Zoom, the startup aims to implement its own proprietary app in the coming months.

Having customers in more than 10 countries, the startup is stepping up its operational requirements to cater to customers from 50 countries.

“With a growing presence in countries like India, the Middle East and South East Asia. We want to expand into other geographies to make math accessible to many people,” says Bhanu.

There are steps in place to expand operations to serve the huge volume of students globally. To build this learning ecosystem, hiring highly functional technical teams is our primary focus, and that’s where a huge portion of the funds raised will be used,” he concludes.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

Eleanor C. William