Founder/Leader: Priya Lakhani OBE, is the founder CEO of CENTURY Tech, a company that designs AI powered learning tools for all age groups (amongst several other impressive ventures).
In her words, CENTURY Tech is “Proven to save one day per week per teacher” (Based on a study of K-12 teachers, and the reduction in admin, feedback, and marking provided by this technology). You can watch her pitch her company here: Watch Priya Lakhani Pitch Century Tech (Solve – MIT, 2018)
The Venture: Founded in 2014 CENTURY Tech is a platform which provides personalized learning to students through AI and machine learning. It assesses students of all levels and makes suggestions for a learning journey for that student based on their performance using microlessons and videos. The system uses AI to analyze student behaviour, including their focus level, how long they take to get through a lesson and can even even evaluate when a student is more likely to be guessing an answer. It compares behaviour of students using an anonymous database, while the individual student work is kept on another database for security. This is considered a for-profit company, however they have a fee pyramid, where corporate users pay more than higher education, who pay more than public education and in turn, all users help to subsidize learning for chartable causes, such as the education of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This company argues that it has leveled the playing field for disadvantaged students, showing equal learning impact on disadvantaged children as privately educated ones. The company’s current estimated annual revenue is $14.8M/year, with contracts in public school systems, businesses and private institutes around the globe.
The Entrepreneur: Priha Lakhani grew up in East Africa, witnessing poverty and inequality which inspired her to give back to those in need. Now UK-based, she started out as a barrister, then changed directions after four years in order to pursue a career which had a greater impact. Her first start-up was a successful sauce business, Masala Masala in 2008, where the profits were used to fund meals for the homeless and vaccinations to children in Africa. In 2014, after reading a book on neuroscience, she decided she wanted to help “fix education”, and founded CENTURY Tech in order to help improve equality in education. Ms Lakhani has won many awards including the 2009 UK Business Entrepreneur of the Year and the Office of the Order of the British Empire. She also founded the Institute for Ethical AI & Machine Learning, a research centre dedicated to the responsible development and operation of machine learning. Although Ms Lakhani’s background is not in education, the team at CENTURY Tech consists of software engineers, neuroscientists, and teachers and are backed by funding sources such as MIT.
I chose Priya Lakhani because she is a truly inspirational innovator. This project isn’t just a money-maker for her, she has designed it to be a disruptor to the EdTech industry, producing a product that is desirable to the top private educational systems and making it accessible to the disadvantaged. If you’re in need of motivation, she talks about how she went from being a mediocre student to where she is today by following her passions in this talk: Priya Lakhani OBE – Don’t be afraid of failure (Wow Talks, 2016)
2 responses to “Priya Lakhani, Founding CEO of CENTURY Tech”
Thank you for this post. Your review of Priya Lakhani is well-articulated and clearly conveys the key aspects of how she represents a good role model for entrepreneurial leadership. I was listening to CENTURY Tech’s video pitch and was pleasantly surprised by how powerful of a presenter Priya is. Continuing to read your post; it all makes sense now; Priya was a barrister before ! Also, its quite interesting to see that Priya, similar to many other entrepreneurs, has tried a number of other avenues before findings what she truly loves. It shows how important persistence, consistency, and believing in yourself truly is. Thank you for this.
Priya Lakhani appears to enjoy change and take chances on ideas that fill a need in many communities. I enjoyed her passion and message for her ventures and her altruistic goals for developing them. Originally she didn’t have the background in tech, but she made sure to fill her team with people to help where she didn’t have the knowledge.