This startup is using the power of social media to get school students to work on sustainability efforts

Go Sharpener is a global network for school students that helps them solve real-world problems. The Delhi-based startup also rewards students for their actions.

This startup is using the power of social media to get school students to work on sustainability efforts

Thursday February 02, 2023,

5 min Read

The Covid-19 pandemic significantly increased the screen time of school children across the world, thanks to online learning. Even after things started going back to normal, students have been glued to their tablets and smartphones.

This got Prateek Kumar and Ankit Kapoor, Co-founders of GoSharperener, to use this addiction in a constructive manner and have a positive impact on children, especially those between the ages of 10 and 17 years.

“Parents and guardians are extremely uncomfortable and want to have constructive social platforms for their children,” says Prateek.

This led the duo to conceptualise a student-only network that constructively uses digital time spent by students (10-17 years). They launched Go Sharpener, a school student network for youngsters, who believe they can solve real-world problems with their efforts. 

The platform was launched in Beta mode in 2021 in New Delhi, and was officially launched in February 2022. It currently has 69,000 registered users from 90+ cities in India.

Delhi-based Go Sharpener’s mission is to harness the power of school students as drivers of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says Prateek. As of now, over 14,000 school students are working on sustainability efforts such as community engagement drives, cleaning drives, etc. through the Go Sharpener network. The number of sustainable impact actions by school students is over 30,000.

The number of sustainable impact actions by school students is over 30,000.

Go Sharpener

Ankit Kapoor, Co-founder, Go Sharpener

Building the platform

The key challenge for setting up the Go Sharpener platform was the formulation of an ecosystem which solves problems in a way that school students like and a format that is acceptable to parents and schools.

Hence, Go Sharpener School Student Network is designed specifically for users <18yrs to ensure safety, security, and moderation. It is linked to SDGs to ensure constructive student engagement, wherein they win rewards for their actions, thereby gamifying the entire experience. Their actions also enable them to build a student impact profile.

The startup has a team of nine, including the founders. The founders have been friends from school. Prateek is Ex-Gartner, FIS, and Nucleus Software; and Ankit is Ex EBSCO, Wolters Kluwer, and Pearson.

Others in the core team include Anbu Saravanan, who is the CTO, and Dr Rumiko Kapoor and Anju Sharma are advisors.

“We came in touch with GoSharpener in the month of January and realised that the concept they have bought in is a beautiful concept, learning beyond the books. They gave us the concept of how we can bring change in the society, and how can we sustain the society and the environment at large," says Mamta Nanda, Principal, Ryan International School, Rohini sector 25.

"I think it is the children who can make this difference. It is a local concept, which has to be taken to a global concept, which we understand and realise. And giving points to the students and making them realise what they are is a beautiful concept. I think it is going to make a mark in children's life,” she adds.

The workings

The product works like a classic social network for school students up to the age of 18 years, with a key focus on safety, security, and moderation.

Students learn about sustainable actions from peers and global organisations through the platform, and get to express their thoughts in fun ways like arts, reels, etc., take action across 25+ areas around Sustainable Development Goals, and report it in the form of videos and images. Based on the actions on the platform, a digital student impact profile is created, which then helps them in gathering points and redemption of rewards in the form of vouchers and internships.

“Our flagship product--‘Impact Profile’ (The New Best Friend of School Report Card)--aims to transform students into superstars by translating every impactful action into points through a personalised digital report card,” says Prateek.

The market for new social apps is growing. A 2019 report by Pew Research Center says 72% of adults in the US use some form of social media. There is also a growing base of social media apps focused on more intimate groups and audiences. Examples include audio-focused social platforms such as Clubhouse and Discord that have become popular in the past year or so. Apart from these, there are platforms like noo-gah! in the same segment.

Speaking of how the platform differentiates itself, Prateek says, GoSharperner is currently the only network designed specifically for users <18years. It is focused on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and rewards students for their impact actions.

“Access to the platform is open for all school students. However, features like events, conferences, and reward catalogues are available under premium membership,” says Prateek.

The startup makes revenue through the subscription fee it collects from school students, which starts from Rs 100 per year and goes up to Rs 6,000 per year.

“We are guided by subject matter expert organisations like PETA India, WaterAid India, and Centre for Science & Environment, which provide an exceptional experience for users,” says Prateek.

The team raised an undisclosed angel funding in October 2022.

“Our aim is to make Go Sharpener the largest school student network, focused at creating a sustainable world,” says Prateek.

Edited by Megha Reddy