Interview with Samaira Mehta - Coding Extraordinaire

Samaira Mehta CoderBunnyz CEO

How Samaira Mehta, CEO of CoderBunnyz, Made Her Idea a Reality 

Samaira Mehta started coding at 6 years old. Now she’s the owner of CoderBunnyz, a board game that teaches kids all over the US how to learn computer programming. Saimara Mehta believes coding is the future and in this interview we go over how she tapped into her entrepreneurial spirit to make her idea a reality. 

Draya:

Okay. Perfect. So yeah, we're just going to get started. And the first thing is just, you know, I want to learn a little bit about you, so kind of, you know, less about, I guess you know, business and things like that, and more just about like you as an individual, what do you like? And, you know what grade are you in, in school? Like that kind of stuff.

Samaira Mehta:

Well, my name is Samaira Mehta. I am 12 years old and I'm going into seventh grade and you know, my hobbies include computer science, so I really enjoy it, but, you know, besides that's that I love everything outdoors. I love hiking and tennis and badminton and you know, I just like going for picnics and enjoying nature. And another thing I really enjoy doing is teaching people and motivating them and making them feel excited or inspired about certain things. And you know, I really enjoy yeah, that's pretty much it. Like, I enjoy computer science, I'm doing nature, photography, everything outdoors, and I enjoy teaching.

Draya:

Awesome. And you know, like I was looking into what you have been doing over these last few years and you know, of the plethora of things I could ask you about, I'm going to start off with CoderBunnyz. 

So what first sparked the idea?

Samaira Mehta:

Yeah. So I think Coderbunnyz. What it was, I was introduced to coding at the age of six with a prank that my dad did on me. And that got me really excited about computer science because I wanted to prank my friends in a similar way. Now I started asking my dad if he could teach me computer science and this coding thing, because, you know, I wanted to prank my friends and he started teaching. I realized that coding was always something that I enjoy. When I start talking to my friends about it. I saw that they didn't have the same passion as I did. So what I wanted to do was I wanted to create a fun way to get them excited because, for me, coding was always something fun, but I couldn't see how they didn't like it. So I started asking them what are somethings they enjoy. And a lot of my friends said that they really liked board games. I thought maybe, I could put coding into a board game and make it something that they can actually enjoy. And I think that's when my first idea of creating a board game to teach coding actually came to life.

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Draya:

That is genius. I love sort of the entrepreneurial nuggets of wisdom in there. You did some market research and figured out, you know, what do people really want and how can you communicate your message and solve a problem in a way that they can identify with. So that is like a masterclass. I love it. And then when you had the idea, what was the process that, you know, you transitioned from? I have this idea from a tick create a board game to here's my board game.

“Samaira Mehta, what was the process that you transitioned from?”

Samaira Mehta:

Yeah. And I think the main part is just a lot of prototyping. So I had an idea for a board game. I trust are drawing out rough sketches. You know, I want the board to look like this, and I wanted the cards to have this specific design on it. And I wanted each token to look like this and things like that. And then, you know, I started, you know, creating various rough sketches and my parents asked the parents, you know, okay. So can I make these realities now? Can I make these ideas into a real board game? And although originally what I, what I thought it was going to be, it was just going to, I thought it was all going to be from my house. I thought we were going to use cardboard and, print out papers and really tape everything out and make everything homemade.

Samaira Mehta:

But I see realized it isn't feasible for the long term and that that probably isn't like, you know, the best way to get proper graphics or images or things like that. So my parents told me that there's a new club, graphic designing is, is that they take you, but your ideas are and then they make them have a look on a computer, how it would look when you carry it out and, you know, make it, make it a reality, I guess. And I thought, wow, that's super cool. You know people are, people can make my drawings a reality. So they helped me get in contact with the graphic designers. But the first prototype that I got back from them, I saw it was nothing like I imagined. It was, you know, completely like, Whoa, I, I mean, it's super cool, but that's not what I imagined. And it took a lot of prototyping, a lot of back and forth of email exchange and you know, them sending copies of me not liking it and then, you know, redoing the process. But eventually, I think persistence throughout the entire process led us to, you know, creating the actual working to where it is today.

Draya:

Wow. I mean, that is, you know, just, I hear from someone from young entrepreneurs, like sometimes they have a problem with figuring out how to tell people "no", or asserting their opinions, especially because they're so young. 

How amazing is it that you were able to get real experience at such a young age?

Samaira Mehta:

I always grew up in like an environment and a family where my voice and my opinion mattered. So if I didn't think something was right. If I believe that I needed changing you know, I should get the change in and it's like that if there's something you believe that needs changing you should go and change it yourself. You are the best person to take action for something that you don't believe in. So although, you know, dial down to something as small as working, even if I didn't believe that the graphics or the images or how I wanted I think, you know, I think persisting and getting it to a point and having that mindset, that my opinions matter, my voice matters, and my ideas and what I have laid out with my final plan - it matters. And so getting it to there and having that persistence throughout it is I think that was the most important thing.

Draya:

Yes, absolutely. And then, you know, now that it's here, what do you feel makes CoderBunnyz so special?

Samaira Mehta:

So I think the thing with coder bunnies is that like with most with computer science, you know, there, there are so many concepts that go into it. You know, and it's, it's, it's hard to, you know, put all that together and just one simple board game, but I think what makes coder bunnies unique is that it, it, it has, it's one of the most comprehensive, the coding board games ever. So it takes all of the major occur concepts that are used in computer programming and it puts it together into a board game. So through 13 levels of gameplay students will learn around 15 concepts of computer programming, 15 of the major concepts in computer programming and with this, you know, when they use, when they go back on the computer and they do some real-world computer science, they'll know the concepts, the real crux of it is the same as what they learn in the working.

Samaira Mehta:

So even if the syntax or the way of writing, maybe different, the overall idea is the same through all the, all of the computer programming languages. So once students understand the crux and the concepts behind it it'll be a lot easier for them to do any other programming language. So that was the idea with toter bunnies. And my goal was to introduce my friends to the concepts that go into play coder bunnies so that they can go in computer science and coding and be like, "well, you know, I learned this in cover buddies, and now I learned in a fun way, and now I can actually do coding. And it's all being made fun." First reason in the first place, first reason my friends didn't like it was because of the way they were introduced to it. Right. I was introduced to it with a prank and I loved it because it was fun.

Samaira Mehta:

Now. Maybe my friends were not used to it in a similar way. So therefore they lost interest. You know, maybe they're just told, you know, "go do coding now." the thing is, if you tell a child to go do coding, there's so many websites out there, kids can get caught up in the web of websites, I guess. And by the time you actually start the coding, all your interest was lost along the way. So I think it's important that the way you're introduced to it is simple. And that's the idea with coder bunnies, it's simple and still comprehensive.

Draya:

Absolutely. I mean, that, it's definitely sort of framing like what your coding experience will be. So for you, it was already framed as fun. So I love that you decided to take that experience and create into something that was scalable, something that other people could enjoy in a similar way that you did. And you know, now that, so CoderBunnyz’ here and you've spoken at all of these events and you've just done amazing work. And, you know, you're coming up now with your boss biz Pitchfest. Right. What sort of lessons are going to be in there, or what's, what's happening with that, you've been able to kind of take what you've learned in entrepreneurship and put it in an experience for other young entrepreneurs?

What’s happening with your Boss Biz idea and what entrepreneurial lessons and experiences do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Samaira Mehta:

So as you say, you know, I'm starting this new initiative called Boss Biz and with Boss Biz, the idea is that me alongside well-known entrepreneurs across the world, we'll sit and we'll share the process of creating a business in a two-week course, and then the line along the path, students will have the chance to create your own business and then pitch it for the chance to win $1,000 as seed funding to kick off their business. Some of the major concepts that I believe, are like the crux of really, you know, creating a business and a startup, one of the major ones is idea generation, right? Without your idea, you have nothing to build upon. I think teaching students, what, what it takes, how to come up with the idea, right?

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Samaira Mehta:

And it's basically just, you know, the problems that you've come across in the past and or some that you may not have even realized - you're really digging into those problems. And then, you know, getting the rest of the business falls along, there are things like analyzing the market developing the concept behind your product the business and marketing side behind it, the testing and improving, and then finally bringing your idea into market, which is sort of like they were, they, you know, present it. And the idea here is that you know, we'll basically have five days two-week program because you know, some days we'll have workdays and some days will be mentoring days and some days will be office hours. So the idea is that they will, students will be provided with complete support and mentorship along this entire path.

Samaira Mehta:

So they shouldn't even hesitate to, you know, reach out or reach out to me or any of the other mentors with any of their questions. And the idea is it's fully supportive. I think one of the main things that I wanted to do with Boss Biz was make it open to everyone. And by everyone, I meet everyone. No matter your ethnicity, your race background you know, abilities, gender, I think I want to welcome, welcome everybody. And you know, recently I had a few autistic kids already sign up, so it makes it, I think that's something I really want to do, you know, create a safe space where students don't feel scared to present their ideas. Where students should not be put down based off their ideas where they should feel welcome to speak their minds. And that's really my overall idea with boss biz.

Draya:

Well, that is excellent. And I'm sure that, you know, it's going to be a really worthwhile experience for all of the students who get involved. And it sounds like you don't even have to have an idea to get started.

Samaira Mehta:

Not at all, no prior experience is necessary and all you need is, you know, the willingness to come up with a solution for becoming an entrepreneur.

Draya:

Absolutely. Well, I love that and I certainly wish you the very best and all of your endeavors, I really am looking forward to it. Is there any part of the Pitchfest that will be streamed or does anyone have access to the kind of seeing the ideas that come out of it?

Samaira Mehta:

The Pitchfest's open. So once it's basically open to anybody who signed up their parents and their family and their friends, it is like a zoo call or Google meet called. Like, let's say you want to join, right. We could provide you with the code to join and the password, and then you know, you could join and you could, you could watch too if you'd like,

Draya:

Well, I would love that. I'm really excited to sort of seeing what you come up with with the students come up with and to share what you're up to. And the last question before I let you go, what so far has been your favorite event that you've done - speaking workshop, anything that comes to mind?

Samaira Mehta:

I was fortunate to get the chance to speak at the Mobile World Congress I'm in front of a hundred thousand people. Similar to those, I've spoken at other conferences across the world, but as much as I enjoy those, I think my favorites are probably the workshops I do. I think it's the little things that bring me joy. And I, I really like you know, each workshop that I hold each new brilliant kid that comes in. And I think my favorite part of this all is just seeing the smiles on kids' faces after they write their first code. It brings me so much joy to see that, you know, something that I started four years ago has now finally come to something. A kid is able to write their first code through a board game that I've created. So I think overall I think workshops are probably my favorite part of this entire thing.

Draya:

Well, thank you so much. I love that idea. I wish I had gotten involved with coding when I was younger and now I'm like trying to figure it out. So thank you for creating a safe space for kids to learn about coding and to enjoy it while, you know, you have the time and while there's all of these, you know, opportunities for you to go out and kind of create something awesome. So I certainly hope that you have wonderful success with your boss biz Pitchfest and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next. Thank you.

Samaira Mehta:

Thank you so much. It was great talking to you.

Final Thoughts From Our Interview With Samaira Mehta

She’s an incredible girl with an incredible spirit! We wish her the best with CoderBunnyz and her new CoderMindz game that simplifies artificial intelligence for kids. 

Hear more from Samaira Mehta From her interview with CNBC Make It.

Listen to our audio interview with Samaira Mehta on Temi! 

Samaira Mehta CoderBunnyz CEO
Get access to the full audio interview with Samaira Mehta and transcript below:

LINK TO AUDIO INTERVIEW 

We create materials to help teachers teach girls entrepreneurial skills! Our curriculum not only empowers girls but also gives educators the tools to lead entrepreneurial experiences in their own schools.
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