In this Entrepreneur Spotlight we focus on LifeJourney. LifeJourney is a technology company in the education market that enables students to test-drive their future by living a day in the life of America’s STEM leaders. Schools use LifeJourney in their classroom to inspire students to pursue STEM careers. LifeJourney’s customers include middle and high schools, Community Colleges, Colleges and Fortune 500 companies. Some of their partners include General Dynamics, Intel, Lockheed Martin, COPT, Kaspersky, Cyberpoint, BAE, and Symantec. We interviewed Rick Gertiz, CEO of LifeJourney, on how he got started in the business of STEM Education and how his background has helped him to succeed.
Where did the idea for LifeJourney come from?
I had often participated in mentoring of students and concluded that mentorship does not scale. Less than 1% of all students in America ever experience a mentor or participate in an internship. We needed a way to bring the nation’s leading STEM companies together to mentor a nation. LifeJourney enables a single mentor to guide 1 million students with fewer than 15 minutes of time commitment a month. LifeJourney is a platform to share your journey with the next generation.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing STEM education? Awareness. Ask a student in school the age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And you will still hear doctor, lawyer and athlete. Just in Maryland alone there are over 20,000 open and unfulfilled jobs in technology driven fields. Still we do not hear “data scientist” or “forensic analyst.” This occurs because students cannot connect their classroom experience to the STEM jobs in their future. They need to understand the path. They need to understand the journey and they need someone to guide them toward that. Parents struggle with guiding their students, as technology is the new alphabet and modern days skills are essential to compete in this new digital economy.
What milestones do you look forward to reaching in 2015?
Our key goal in 2015 is to accelerate our mission of putting every student on their journey. This means 40 million students and 1 million teachers. Our recent capital raise will fuel channel expansion in the US and the world.
What advice would you give on building a new team together?
Find people that share a passion and align their skills with the company’s mission.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to build products that would change things and inspire people