NGS founder, Anna Lenhart, interviewed Shonak Patel
Shonak Patel is the co-founder of Gather Education, a virtual classroom platform that makes teaching and learning on-line simple, natural and more accessible to all. Currently, he is working as the Vice President of Sales & Operation at Testive, an online personalized SAT/ACT prep program.
In 2009, Shonak served in AmeriCorps as the Finance and Development Fellow with the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative in New Orleans, LA.
“I was the one who benefitted most from the experience,” Shonak said. “You don’t realize ’till you go and do it.”
His year of service helped him to notice a problem he wanted to fix: access to education. He found that access was the underlying problem in a lot of neighborhoods. People are trapped and not able to step outside and gain the experience they need.
While serving with AmeriCorps, Shonak learned that the right way to sell, recruit and communicate with people is to listen and ask questions. Common questions he asks are, “If you could wave a magic wand and you could have one thing, what would it be?” and “What was your experience using ‘X’? What was missing? What do you wish it had?”
He said a lot of it has to do with showing people and not telling.
Shonak has worked on a few ventures, but currently he is working with Testive.
“What I love about Testive is we’re revolutionizing, I believe, the way online education is delivered,” he said.
At Testive, they don’t focus on educational content or how to access the content but more on how to get the student motivated for online education. They create a lot of tools for teachers to help with motivation and compliance in an online environment.
Shonak’s advice to those looking at working in EdTech is to recognize that there are two roles: selling or building. He said you need to identify with one of those.
“You just have to listen and ask questions and have the energy to do that,” he said.
Watch the interview for more information on Shonak and the world of EdTech.
Written By Callie Peterson