Educational Vision Technologies Scales Up with Seed Round
After winning just about every entrepreneur and startup pitch challenge on UC San Diego’s campus, raising $100,000 in a friends and family investment round, being accepted into the local Connect Springboard incubator program and securing paid pilot programs with two universities, Educational Vision Technologies is ready to scale up.
The startup, which uses computer vision and machine learning algorithms to autonomously generate interactive notes and video from course lectures, is launching a seed round of funding to be able to expand into some of the more than 30 universities on their waiting list.
Educational Vision Technologies, founded by Monal Parmar, a UC San Diego electrical engineering master’s student and electrical engineering undergraduate alumnus, has a goal of helping students study smarter.
With a camera installed in the back of a classroom and some algorithms and computer vision conducted behind the scenes, students have access to time-stamped and keyword searchable video of professors’ lectures. Instead of having to re-watch an hours-long lecture, students can search for the variable or part of the problem they’re struggling with, and read a text transcript or watch the video from that specific portion of the lecture.
Instead of struggling to scribble down every single word a professor says, students can focus on actually paying attention and only taking notes about key ideas in class, knowing that digital notes will be available through EVT.
This is all done autonomously, without any extra work required on the part of the professor or lecturer.
“EVT autonomously creates notes from a lecture, so students don’t have to write every single thing down and can focus more on understanding,” Parmar said. “It also enables them to study more efficiently outside of class through the ability to click on a word and be taken to the point in the lecture when the professor wrote that on the board or talked about it.”
EVT can now be used for lectures given with a traditional chalkboard or dry erase board, as well as for lectures that use slides. The platform also allows the lecturer to be embedded into their slides in the EVT video.
The startup currently has its system deployed in eight classrooms at UC San Diego and one at the University of San Diego. They also have a pipeline of universities requesting the EVT platform, but they need additional resources before they can expand. EVT charges an annual fee per classroom that its system is installed in.
So far, students have shown they value what EVT brings to the classroom.
“We’re finding that students are using our platform extremely heavily,” Parmar said. “With one class this quarter—an electrical engineering class, Probability and Statistics—we’re finding that at minimum 44 percent of students in the class are using our platform on a weekly basis. The average use was 58 percent of students logging on every week.”
While students across the board appreciate the benefits of EVT, some groups have higher than average use.
“There are certain demographics that we have disproportionate impacts on such as students with disabilities,” Parmar said. “Seventy percent of these students need note taking accommodations and we autonomously provide these accommodations to service their needs. Plus, we eliminate the hundreds of thousands in cost universities currently spend to provide this resource.”
Plus, Parmar is seeing unexpected excitement in the role EVT could play for universities bulking up their online course offerings. He says universities pay between $100,000 and $400,000 to create a single online class.
“Our system autonomously creates high quality digital offerings, is 100 times cheaper per course, and is substantially more convenient because professors don’t have to go to a special studio to create these online classes,” he said. “They go into class, teach as usual and we autonomously create a high quality digital offering for them.”
Parmar and his co-founder, Jason Bunk, a UC San Diego computational physics alumnus, took advantage of campus resources to get to this point. Parmar took ECE 180: Entrepreneurship for Engineers, and used that knowledge as a foundation. EVT then participated in The Basement’s accelerator for student startups, as well as the Institute for the Global Entrepreneur’s I-Corps program, funded by the National Science Foundation. They won the Basement Demo Day, Triton Entrepreneur Night and Ignite’s pitch competition. Now, they’re ready to fully realize their vision.
“I believe that startups are probably the best option an individual has to make a large impact,” Parmar said. “There are many different areas I want to improve; I want to see an increase in the amount of people who graduate college, and an increase in the amount of people who graduate high school. I want to see a more educated population. And so I think that entrepreneurship was the best way for me to bring about these changes.”