Two young Indians win President’s Innovation Prize for making schooling easier for ‘neurodivergent’ students


Yash Dhir and Rahul Nambiar, Indian-origin undergraduate seniors at the University of Pennsylvania, have bagged the President’s Innovation Prize 2024 for their new-age edtech solution, Jochi. They have been awarded the prize for making schooling easier to students with learning differences, like ADHD.

The prize includes $100,000 for their collaborative project and a stipend of $50,000 each. Additionally, they got a dedicated workplace at the university’s business incubator to cradle and grow their edtech startup, Travel Beats, an Indian community portal by IndianEagle, a leading travel organization for Indian in the US reported.

Deemed as changemakers of tomorrow wanting to ‘make a positive, lasting difference in the world,’ Yash Dhir and Rahul Nambiar are at present helping more than 1000 neurodivergent students with their educational management tool integrated to the system of nine schools. The UPenn President’s Innovation prize money would help them develop their technology and expand it to more schools in America.

Yash Dhir, an engineering major, and Rahul Nambiar, a computer science major, founded Jochi in 2022. The idea struck Yash in his freshman year when he realized the challenges of remote education – the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. He wanted to create a tool to aid remote learners in managing their time outside the classroom. Considering his learning differences in high school, he wanted to tailor it around middle and high school neurodivergent students with ADHD, dyslexia, and executive dysfunction.

But with life slowly returning to normalcy, Yash moved into the on-campus dormitory in 2021 for live classes. It is here that he met his roommate and future business partner, Rahul Nambiar. Soon, they started investing their time after studies into developing the idea and creating an educational management platform. After a year or so, Jochi came to life.

Jochi features a digital daily planner for students and management tools for learning specialties. While students can organize their daily assignment and extracurricular activities, educators can track their progress, examine their performance, and provide necessary support based on real-time information. This gives instructors a full picture of their students as learners in and outside the traditional environment of brick-and-mortal classrooms.

Yash Dhir and Rahul Nambiar’s Jochi earned recognition for its tremendous potential to revolutionize learning experience for neurodivergent students. “They won many awards for their invention, including the $50,000 Draper Bridge Fund Award and $30,000 cash reward in the Startup Challenge. They also made it to the semifinals of the 2024 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition. The 2024 Penn President’s Innovation Prize takes the total fundings for Jochi to nearly $300,000. With financial and faculty support from Penn, the student founders look forward to developing their startup into a successful business,” Travel Beats reported.

“Inventors at their core, Yash Dhir and Rahul Nambiar identified a gap and a solution to support students with learning differences. They have used their creativity and determination to turn an ambitious vision into a very useful product,” says Interim President J. Larry Jameson.

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