We recently were featured by ARScene.net through a great article written by Todd Jones. Todd did a great job and really took quite a bit of time with Mandy and I talking about Nerdies and the Foundation for Nerd Advancement. Please make sure you check out the article and start following Todd and ArScene.net.
Arkansas startup to build “batting cage for nerds”
Todd E Jones, Feb 5th 2014
Arkansas startup founder Brad Harvey had been to batting cages before. As the father of an active youth, he had taken his son to the batting cage to learn how to be a better batter. One day, while waiting for his son’s lessons, he thought about his other son, Isaac, a technology loving nerd.
Isaac, who has Asperger’s, doesn’t play sports, but he is very interested in technology, gaming and other technology activities.
“I thought, ‘Why isn’t there a batting cage for nerds?’” he said by phone. That’s where the idea came from.
With the emergence of technology and the opportunities it affords, there is still one problem.
“We have the largest knowledge gap between parents and kids in history,” he said. “Parents want to help their children progress, but they simply aren’t able to for some of these kids.”
A lot of kids want to learn more than they can receive in a typical public school setting, but there is a shortage of places available.
Nerdies will be an attempt to help fill the gap for kids who are ahead in school, very smart and missing opportunities to learn more by providing an alternative learning environment.
At its core Nerdies is a training and tutoring company with other services sprinkled in which uniquely fit the customer base. We want the nerd that is sitting at home wanting to learn how to program “mods for Minecraft”, we want the nerd that wants to learn how to design using Photoshop or Illustrator, or the nerd that would love learning about robotics but doesn’t have the knowledge or the community to do so. Unlike in generations past, being a nerd today is actually cool.
“These kids have a desire to learn things that a parent cannot traditional teach them, and a school is not equipped to teach them,” said Brad’s wife, Mandy Harvey.
We really wanted to build this for our own kids, but the response was overwhelming from others,” Mandy explained.
Nerdies will open in Fayetteville and has several who are supporting the initiative. The Arkansas startup was co-founded by Brad and Mandy Harvey. Others partners include BlackBox Labs, Bradley Edwards Architecture and a small equity partner, EngwIT (Gravette, AR).
The Harveys launched a crowdfunding project on Indigo in October of 2013 and have raised over $30,000 thus far. The startup also won “Crowd Favorite” at NWA Startup Weekend *http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/article/95730/exposure-takes-top-prize-at-startup-weekend-nwa) and was recently featured in the Fayetteville Flyer and NPR.
Some of the things that Nerdies will teach include:
- Programming / coding
- Design, Creatives / creative suite
- Video game programming
- Music / songwriting
- Speaker series
Some of the goals for Nerdies include community involvement, student involvement, helping others understand the importance of technology, and turning the corner by helping these kids feel like they are a part of a community.
The Harveys themselves have some unique skills to help them be successful with the startup. Mandy is an HR Employment Mgr for Tyson Foods, on the state board for ESL. She is heavily involved with the community working with organizations like Grandma’s House (Vice President of the Board, 5 years). She grew up in Northwest Arkansas is a graduate at the University of Arkansas and fluent in Spanish. Her non-profit and employment compliance background will be invaluable and she will be in charge of the non-profit arm Foundation for Nerd Advancement.
Rendering of Nerdies Landing Space
Brad has a background in Telecom, technology, business, data analysis and startups. His Undergrad is in Math from Texas Tech and has an MBA from Houston Baptist. He has been involved with tutoring as well as startups in the past.
The non-profit arm, the Foundation for Nerd Advancement, hopes to help provide the same opportunities for students who may not have the resources take advantage of the alternative learning space at Nerdies.
Nerdies will launch in Fayetteville and they hope to add a second and third location within 12 months. Nerdies is also looking to franchise within the next two years. First, however, they need to get the first location open and finalize their non-profit foundation. The Arkansas startup hopes to start summer camps in Fayetteville this Summer.
Batting cage for nerds
Co-Founders, Brad and Mandy Harvey
Located in Fayetteville, AR