One-line solution summary:
bina is a digital education ecosystem designed to deliver live personalised education for 4–12 year-olds.
Pitch your solution.
High quality education is inaccessible for many families across the globe.
Educational researchers have identified the following elements as essential for quality early years education:
- An adaptive curriculum with short feedback loops
- Small, carefully-matched learning groups
- Continuous and deliberate social-emotional support
Current systems claiming to provide these conditions are fiercely expensive and geographically constrained
bina is being built in two phases:
- The bina School operates as a comprehensive, synchronous, international primary school marketed directly to families and in partnership with firms. In addition, it is a cost-effective site for the development of bina products and brand.
- bina-as-a-service offers programme materials, teacher training, and accreditation . It is licensed globally to governments, and NGOS, as well as public and private educational systems.
Once bina’s approach to precision education is established and research-affirmed, we will accelerate our growth, contributing to the elimination of social, economic, and geographic barriers to quality education.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
There are 1.5 billion primary-age children across the globe, but only a select group of financially and geographically privileged families have access to high quality education. Meanwhile, an estimated 58 million primary-age children are out of education – the majority of which are girls. The financial cost of lost lifetime productivity and earnings is estimated at $30 trillion.
Even in better scenarios, schools focus on the center of the bell curve; classrooms are usually overcrowded and socio-emotional development is largely neglected. The 40 million teachers across the globe are underpaid, overworked, and disrespected and are leaving the sector on an unprecedented scale – a highly concerning issue given that 24.4 million primary teachers will be needed if universal education is to be achieved. For parents, balancing their familial and labour obligations is a continual point of contention. Women are more likely to be affected by this and, consequently, less likely to participate in the labour market.
Education systems are rigid and conservative: slow to change, reluctant to innovate and ignorant of the latest research. Improvements within the field are not collective, but individualised – and profoundly influenced by geography. Schools bound to a physical location are inherently inequitable.
What is your solution?
bina is a digital schooling ecosystem that provides personalised education for 4-12 year-olds around the world. At The bina School, children from across the world come together in digital classrooms of no more than 6 students. Master teachers guide them through a narrative-based learning approach to cover and exceed international standards of primary education.
We are building a home for educational innovation and research. At the front-end of our product, we curate and integrate pre-existing 3rd-party applications to provide a cohesive experience for students and their teachers. In the back office, we aggregate data generated by our curated tools and analyse short- and long-term trends. This allows us to have an accurate view of what students and educators know and can do. Beyond crafting an adequate individualised learning experience for each student, we gain insight on a meta level about what working in teaching and learning in a digital medium. This is how we craft an educational offering that is always the right level of challenge.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
As bina grows, our target population will expand. As we believe that the affluent and socially privileged have the responsibility to build a better system that works for everyone, we will first target these populations. This will take a B2C and B2B approach. More specifically, we will first target global millennial parents in need of flexible, international, high quality schooling which fits their work and family life. Secondly, we will approach companies to offer bina as a company benefit to retain and attract talent. Students enrolled in this phase of bina’s growth will help us to build our dataset, methodology and brand: they – alongside our teachers – are both our community and design partners. We regularly gather feedback and observations regarding their educational needs and build accordingly. As we build bina together, students and teachers will receive company shares (RSUs). This is how we will build a system which provides children with precisely the academic and socioemotional education they need while also building a better system which not only supports but also values the work of teachers.
In bina’s second growth spurt (bina-as-a-service), we will target children who are excluded from accessing high quality education because of their social, economic and/or geographic circumstance. They will have access to the refined bina methodology (curriculum, apps and infrastructure, teacher training, accreditation) built within the first phase at zero cost to families. To deliver this, we will partner with governments, NGOs and school systems across the globe.
This is how we will ensure that no child is left behind, parents do not have to choose between work and family and teachers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Support teachers to adapt their pedagogy, facilitate personalized instruction, and communicate with students and their families in remote and hybrid settings.
Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.
When education is bound to physical environments, there are two inherent inequities: (1) classrooms typically consist of students from similar socioeconomic, geographic, and cultural backgrounds. As a result, there are limited opportunities for learning with a diverse group of peers and limited opportunities for developing intercultural intelligence, a necessary skill for navigating the 21st-century world. Only in the most optimal (privileged) scenarios is personalised instruction available.
We are designing an educational system that arrives to students wherever they are and supports teachers everywhere. With classrooms which rupture physical space, we overcome previous structural barriers to quality education and offer high quality, personalised education which provides students with the academic and socio-emotional support they need.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Berlin, Germany
What is your solution’s stage of development?Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.
Throughout 2020 we explored the bina PMF and value proposition. We launched our POC, ran four cohorts of 23 children in 4 time zones, taught 1250 synchronous hours and proved a willingness to pay. We are now launching further test cohorts (including a Summer Camp) in preparation to launch a full school year.
We continue to test and build our pedagogical and technological offering. Our business model is being continuously refined (price and recruitment channels) as rubber meets the road.
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
What makes your solution innovative?
As a digital school, bina’s education is borderless, data-driven and made to fit the lives of today’s families. We are building an education ecosystem which overcomes social, economic and geographic barriers to quality education on a global scale. Our classrooms consist of no more than 6 students and we supercharge educators (teachers and developmental psychologists) with digital tools to deliver personalised learning. Through these tools, we can precisely measure student and educator development and deliver actionable feedback in short loops; this also reduces teacher workload.
The building of bina is sustainably planned (we believe the wealthy have the responsibility to build a system that works better for everyone) while also taking into account current global working trends e.g. remote, flexible working. We will work with HR departments to offer bina as a company benefit to employees. In/around these office spaces, children of employees will take their classes and also have space to complete their assignments and activities, relieving parents from their child care obligations while ensuring their kids are never too far away. We view this as an active solution to improving diversity within companies across the globe which rethinks the nature of the workplace.
Ultimately, bina is innovative because we are open to innovation. Our primary aim in the education market is not to compete but to collaborate. This is how we are building a solution where educational research and products feel at home.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries do you currently operate?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
Currently, bina serves 12 students and their families. We have 1 teacher. We are currently focusing on serving families in and around CET. However, they represent a broad range of national backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures.
In one year time, 170 full-time students will be enrolled, as well as 30 educators. We will be looking to expand to cater for families in and around SE-Asian time zones.
In five years, The bina School will have 1234 full-time students. bina-as-a-service will operate in 400 schools with 400 students attending each school. We will have 100 educators, both teachers and developmental psychologists.
How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?
Academic performance of our students will be measured through embedded assessments that are aligned with developmentally-appropriate international standards. Student socioemotional well-being will be assessed through validated survey instruments and interviews with students and families. We will benchmark these assessments against students’ local and regional contexts.
Measuring intercultural intelligence and peace is challenging, though we will utilise existing research instruments to approximate the growth of our students. Some of the intercultural effects of the bina experience will not become apparent until children reach adulthood, so we will continue to track our students once they graduate from our schools. As we launch bina-as-a-service we will monitor levels of peace within local and regional contexts and compare them against similar regions and historic trends.
Once we establish our first partnerships with firms in the coming year, we will monitor the impact of bina’s hubs over several years, measuring the effect on employee satisfaction, workplace diversity, and gender balance in senior positions.
What type of organization is your solution team?
For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
How many people work on your solution team?
Full-time staff: 6
Part-time staff: 1
How long have you been working on your solution?
bina began as a business entity in May 2021. Prior to this, bina’s founder and CEO, Noam Gerstein, engaged in extensive in-person research across the globe for over 7 years. This was augmented more recently by a thorough review of the research and investigation of similar endeavours involving virtual schooling. In 2020, Noam received a grant from the EU to explore bina’s proof of concept.
How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Noam Gerstein: Founder & CEO. Founded & bootstrapped "Hodmaalta," and exited successfully. Physicians for Human Rights. 7+ years of global K-12 research. A relentless human with strong opinions, loosely held.
John Hall: CAO. PhD in education from UC Berkeley. Launched a charter school network. Teacher and administrator in US & international schools. Professor, researcher, advocate. A walking talking encyclopedia for education research literature and endless field experience.
Kate Asinskaya: COO. 3 years experience as co-founder & COO of a global startup. 14 years of experience at non-profits, consultancies and tech companies.
Angela Schael: Head of Admissions. 14+ years experience in international primary schools in Asia. with a focus on admissions and marketing. Worked for NGOs and in the corporate sector. Founded her own media company. Passionate about making a positive impact on society and the planet.
Joseph Hoppe: Marketing. Former engineer turned copywriter. Freelanced in the UK, Australia and Germany. Attended over 10 schools growing up. Feels strongly about marketing products that have a positive impact.
Adria Trivisone: Social Media Marketing. A content creation machine who is always on the hunt to engage, inspire and have a significant impact on people.
Bryony Whitehead: Brand voice, PR. 2+ years of educating multicultural groups, including migrants and refugees, both on- and offline. Polyglot with a global perspective on the challenges facing society.
Ella Huddleston: Research Assistant. Current psychology student at Touro College Berlin. Previous instructor's assistant at a charter school in California and 5+ years of experience as a caretaker and tutor.
What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?
bina is led and run predominantly by an (off-white) woman who identifies as bisexual. As we recruit others to join our team, we actively engage with traditionally underrepresented communities. In addition, we partner with organizations that specialize in identifying diverse pools of candidates and we invest in advertising on platforms that focus on diversifying talent (e.g. Talent Diverse). When hiring, we employ positive discrimination. Our team comprises people from a wide range backgrounds and with positions available to both experienced candidates and at entry-level. For candidates looking to gain experience in an edtech organisation/startup environment, we offer paid internships.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)