$12M to Build an Education System for Supercollaborators

I’m excited to announce the close of a $12M financing round led by Balaji and Amjad.

We’ve grown revenue 5x in a little over a year—and we would double again if we admitted everyone on our paid reservation list.

Synthesis grew out of our cofounder Josh’s experience creating a lab school at SpaceX with Elon Musk. As Elon put it, school should “teach to the problem and not the tools.” Josh had free rein to design a school from first principles, with the goal of producing the kind of students who can contribute to solving civilization-scale problems, like getting to Mars or transitioning to sustainable energy.

When I toured the school in 2016, I felt like I was being given a glimpse of the future of education. The kids seemed so alive! The spark of curiosity and agency so often dulled by our industrial education system still burned bright with these kids. The coursework was dizzyingly complex, and the instructors were demanding, but it was clear the kids relished the challenge.

I was initially elated, but then my stomach sank. My two-year-old son would never see a school like this. I had seen the educational promised land, but my kids would never reach it.


Josh and I ended up becoming friends. We collaborated on a project at my previous company, ClassDojo. We had dozens of conversations about the possibility of scaling something like the SpaceX lab school.

We both saw the problems with the industrial education system and were frustrated by the lack of innovation. The current system seems designed to produce obedient rule-followers in a world that increasingly demands agency and creativity. All efforts at reform have failed. Even Elon, with all his resources, could not find a suitable school for his children and had to create his own. If we are to have progress—that wondrous state of affairs where the future is better than the present—we must change how we educate our children.

Summer 2020, with covid closing down schools and parents worldwide for the first time getting a glimpse into the standard instruction methods of schools, we felt the time was right.

We started by building an online version of synthesis, the most ambitious class from the SpaceX lab school.

Our mission is to cultivate supercollaborators, individuals with the capability to effectively work together to solve our civilization’s most challenging problems. Students ages 6 to 14 join a cohort that meets once a week to play novel, complex games and simulations. Sessions are moderated by an adult facilitator, whose main role is to encourage clear communication and rigorous analytical thinking. Think challenging video games + the Socratic method.

To kids, it feels like playing a game with friends.

To parents, kids are learning the world's most valuable skill: how to solve complex problems with a team.

The brightest and most committed Synthesis kids get access to more challenging curriculum and competition. We aim to develop superlative problem solvers the same way European soccer clubs develop top-notch players—by finding the best and enabling them to sharpen each others’ skills.

Just as there are recreational soccer players, there are recreational Synthesis players. But if you want to move up, the option is available and there is no speed limit.

Our goal is to make Synthesis available to every child in the world. But our first commitment is to the top 1% by cognitive ability and commitment. Our current system is cutting off the runway for our most advanced students. We believe in doing the opposite—challenging these students as much as possible so that they build the capabilities to solve big problems for all of us. Education is a positive-sum game.

With this recent fundraise, we will make critical investments to take Synthesis to the next level of scale and impact:

We are going to invest in making Synthesis better.

We’ll create more challenging simulations, powerful teaching tools, rigorous curriculum, better targeted student feedback, more available times, etc.

We are going to invest in making Synthesis more accessible. 

We currently have a large waitlist that is growing faster than our capacity to admit students. We will invest in tools to scale so we can handle more students. And we will continue to invest in software to augment teachers, so each teacher can be more effective for more students, which will ultimately drive down the cost of Synthesis so more families can afford it.

We are going to invest in expanding the Synthesis network.

We’re quickly building a critical mass of the world’s most ambitious young problem solvers. These kids want one thing more than anything else: a challenge. We are going to give it to them by building the world’s most challenging curriculum.

I hope this does not sound like we have it all figured out. We do not. We have many obstacles – primarily, how do we maintain and raise the quality bar as we scale?

But we do have a spark, an education experience that engages students like nothing else, and a community of committed families desperate to see us succeed so their children can reach their potential.

Come work with us and help us turn this spark into a fire.