Helping the Next Generation of Creators and Makers

Open Road — Week 3 by Team THIS

Open Road alums describe Week 3 as “hump week”, the halfway point of our five week adventure. It’s also when the long drives and packed schedules take their toll on our minds and bodies, and test our excitement and passion for making an impact. However, we quickly felt rejuvenated after meeting Adam Learing, Co-Founder of Learn.Create.Build Academy (LCB), a company based in Sioux Falls, SD that focuses on teaching children about the applications of technology through hands-on and engaging summer camps.

Left to Right: Jinny Han , Stephanie Dollan, Adam Learning (Co-Founder of LCB), Tsering Sherpa, & Thai Ha-Ngoc

Adam started LCB with one of his best friends from childhood after his previous tech startup was acquired by a STEM education company. Through the parent company, he continued to develop new curriculum that used the latest technology and software. But Adam eventually grew tired of developing new curriculum, yet never being able to implement it or experience students’ growth throughout the learning process. From this frustration came the inspiration to start LCB, and with it, an opportunity for Adam to directly impact children by teaching them about technology in a fun and interactive way.

While LCB quickly grew from a single summer camp in Sioux Falls to over 50 camp locations in 15 states, Adam envisioned a deeper impact in each of his summer camp locations. He believed that one way of accomplishing this could be through an after-school program that ran throughout the school year. This would also help LCB earn revenue outside of the summer camps, diversifying his income sources. With summer camp registration and logistics in full swing, Adam asked for our support in building out an initial business model for the after-school program.

We hit the ground running, excited to dive into what we thought was a well-defined scope. The logic for developing an after-school program made sense to us, and there were many successful models from which we could draw inspiration. However, we quickly realized that every question we answered raised two more. For example, would LCB’s current instructors be able to handle the more extensive curriculum that a year-round program would require, as compared to four-day summer camps? What happens to staffing schedules if you offer multiple technology tracks (e.g., Minecraft, HTML coding and animation) that many instructors couldn’t cover single-handedly? Should LCB offer a drop-in schedule to cater to parents’ ever shifting schedules? Or should parents have to sign up ahead of time to help predict costs? We seemed to be creating more work for both ourselves and LCB the deeper we went.

Despite these challenges, we took to heart Adam’s entrepreneurial spirit, which emphasized quick idea generation and ongoing iteration over analysis paralysis.

We realized that what would be most useful for LCB is a business model using all available data (e.g., customer interviews and competitor research) that Adam could iterate on in the future. Our resulting financial model won’t be 100% predictive, but it will give LCB a sense of the program’s economic prospects Similarly, while our staffing recommendation may not cover every conceivable issue, it raises important pros and cons to consider as Adam moves forward.

Our entrepreneur, Adam, helping us get our minds and bodies moving before getting back on the road.

We’re excited to build on the act-first, iterative learning style that we learned from Adam as we come down the home stretch of Open Road. As we left Sioux City for our next stop, we felt re-energized and inspired by the commitment that Adam showed toward creating positive, safe and collaborative space for kids. We can’t wait to see how they continue to make technology fun and interactive for the next generation.