Verizon Wireless believes that powerful technology can help solve many of society’s biggest problems. Hands-on, accessible education is one of our nation’s most significant challenges, but by leveraging mobile technology, visionaries and entrepreneurs can bring new opportunities to the classroom.
One of last year’s Powerful Answers Education finalists, Nish Parikh, CEO of WebTeam Corporation, recently sat down with us to give an update on his company and explain how mobile technology can provide solutions for educating children with autism.
Q: Tell us about WebTeam. How did you come up with the idea and why?
A: In 2006, I started developing educational products for my own children that reinforced what they learned in the classroom and offered educational afterschool alternatives to video games and television. While developing these products, I met educational experts who introduced me to children in the special needs community. It was apparent that these children could benefit from assistive educational tools, so in 2007, I shifted WebTeam’s focus to developing teaching tools for children with autism. After a journey of four years, our products have evolved into an all-encompassing autism management toolkit – ColorsKit – that incorporates voice and facial recognition, data collection and analysis, and multiple customization capabilities tailored to optimize the learning potential for each student.
Q: How did you find out about Verizon’s 2013 Powerful Answers Award and why did you enter?
A: In January 2013, we were presenting our technology for autism management to a pharmaceutical client. The client had heard about Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award and suggested we apply.
Q: What was the process like for entering and presenting?
A: Verizon made the process quite easy by sending notifications on what materials were needed and when they were due. When it came time for our presentation, we were quite nervous. This was a huge opportunity for our small company. Much to our delight, Verizon had helped us prepare for the presentation by bringing in experts and coaches to assist us with honing our messages and refining our demonstration.
Q: How has winning the Powerful Answers Award changed your business? What value has it added?
A: Winning the Powerful Answers Award was a complete game changer for WebTeam. It was the catalyst for advancing our mission. It gave us global recognition, added credibility in the marketplace, and opened new doors to develop and market our products to a broader audience of parents, educators and healthcare providers. Currently, we are collaborating with Verizon to make our educational apps available to over 100 million Verizon customers through the company's educational portal on its mobile devices.
Q: What advice do you have for this year’s entrants? Why should they enter?
A: To this year’s entrants I say, never give up on your dream. We are living proof that an idea can be recognized and validated by industry experts who share your vision for solving a global challenge. There are few platforms that offer such tremendous support for new ideas. The Powerful Answers Award provides recognition, credibility, financial support and business development opportunities we would never have otherwise received.
Q: Where do you see the industry in 10 years?
A: The future of special needs education lies in mobile technology. Technology will continue to transform the way in which services are delivered and managed in healthcare and education. Video-based content delivery, data collection, telemedicine and tele-intervention will be increasingly utilized, and it will allow expertise and knowledge in the healthcare and education fields to be disbursed.
Verizon Powerful Answers Award aims to discover ideas that deliver the best new solutions in four core areas: education, healthcare, sustainability and transportation. First round submissions will be accepted through June 30, 2014. They will be judged by panels of industry experts, and winners will be announced in early 2015.