Andrew Hsu: Harnessing the Power of Educational Gaming

At age 19, Andrew Hsu already had three undergraduate science degrees, and he was closing in on a doctorate in neuroscience from Stanford University. He could have chosen dozens of high-profile career paths, but he selected one that led him into the field of educational gaming.

Receiving a $100,000 grant through the 20 Under 20 Fellowship program started by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel to encourage young entrepreneurs, Hsu left Stanford in early 2011 to found Airy Labs, an educational gaming company dedicated to creating the next generation of mobile and tablet learning games for kids. In August 2011, he secured seed financing of $1.5 million to support his vision for the company.

Attendees at this year’s Content in Context (CIC) Conference will have an opportunity to learn Hsu’s story and hear his beliefs about the power of educational gaming as he participates in general session panels on June 4 and June 5.

“I’ve always been a huge gamer,” Hsu said in an interview with AEP. “I knew the power of games because I was addicted to them myself.”

Furthermore, as an extremely gifted student, Hsu saw the effects of an educational system that often seems to socially penalize kids for being bright. He believes that social media gaming has real power to change education, and he hopes to create games that will help create new systems for learning. “I believe there is a really big opportunity there to socially reward smartness,” says Hsu. “You can engage in peer to peer learning.”

As do most start-ups, Airy Labs has experienced some growing pains, but Hsu remains focused on the goal of creating a successful company that benefits society. “Doing social good is absolutely necessary for me,” he says.

Hsu believes educational games have been “less of a traditionally hot space” within the industry, but he says “more and more people are starting to see the opportunities. Mobile apps are ushering in a huge education transformation.”

Hsu views the education category in the field of applications as very fragmented, and he sees opportunities there for Airy Labs. “I want to be a clear leader in that space in the next year and a half,” he says.

Plan now to attend CIC to learn more about Hsu and the work of Airy Labs. You may even find a business opportunity. “Given our expertise in game and application development, we are interested in discussing partnerships with any potential publishers,” Hsu concludes.

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April 2012


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