At an age where most of us were lost in cartoons, Samaira Mehta is taking Silicon Valley by storm! The 10-year-old is a skilled programmer and has become somewhat of an icon for aspiring coders.
Samaira has developed Coder Bunnyz- a coding board game that teaches children all the concepts necessary in computer programming. She has already attended events by technology giants like Google and Microsoft as a keynote speaker!
Speaking to Medium, the coding prodigy says, “I always loved board games, and I always loved computer programming, but I didn’t like the fact that I had to do both of them separately, so I thought if I can’t bring board game onto a computer coding screen, so why not bring the computer coding to a board game. And that’s when I got the idea to create a coding board game, and that’s what I’m doing today.”
However, it wasn’t just developing an enjoyable board game that made her the talk of Silicon Valley.
Samaira’s father, Rakesh, who is an engineer at Intel and Sun Microsystems/Oracle, had a strategic business plan in mind for Coder Bunnyz.
It started with young Samaira testing the game with her friends so they could point errors and share feedback. Accordingly, Samaira refined Coder Bunnyz to perfection.
The duo didn’t stop at that. They arranged for coding workshops for kid coders which Samaira conducted. They also established a company to launch the game.
“I think the most interesting story that’s happened since I started my company was when I was doing a workshop, and the day before I looked at the sign-up sheet to see how many people signed up, and I saw two sign-up sheets were filled instead of 1. And so I told my dad, and he contacted the librarian, and it turned out they accidentally put up 2 sign up sheets instead of one, and so the next day, so many people came that we couldn’t accommodate all of them and we had to pair kids up, and some didn’t get to play. But in the end, it was all great, and everyone had a fun time!” shares Samaira.
Samaira’s workshop and the game are loved by most who meet her. In fact, from the moment she launched Coder Bunnyz, Samaira has conducted over 60 workshops in Silicon Valley which has been attended by about 2,000 kids.
Within a year, she also sold about 1,000 boxes of her game, worth $35,000 in all.
Samaira’s game has earned her the second prize from Think Tank Learning’s Pitchfest in 2016, which included $2,500. She also received the first “real life Powerpuff girls” prize from Cartoon Network.
Perhaps one of the best highlights in her journey was when she met Google’s Chief Culture Officer, Stacy Sullivan, after the young prodigy conducted a workshop for the tech giant.
“After my back-to-back workshops at Google headquarters, we talked for an hour. She told me I was doing great and once I get out of college, I can come work for Google,” Samaira told Business Insider.
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An open offer from Google is a dream come true for most. But Samaira replied to Sullivan saying that she’s happy being an entrepreneur and didn’t know if she wanted to join Google!
The success of Coder Bunnyz prompted Samaira to develop another version of the board game–this time, explaining the concepts of Artificial Intelligence (AI)! Coder Mindz is believed to be the first ever AI board game to hit the market.
Samaira is taking help from her younger brother, 6-year-old Aadit, to develop this new game. Incidentally, this was the age when Samaira too had started coding.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)