Stephen Fry's new startup is a Pinterest for education
Published 16/02/2016 | 08:30
Stephen Fry has quietly co-founded a startup that bills itself as a "Pinterest for education".
The company called Pindex launched this month, and is a self-funded online platform that creates and curates educational videos and infographics for teachers and students.
Their first video is a Stephen Fry-narrated explainer about the Large Hadron Collider, dark matter and extra dimensions. Other videos will focus on science and technology, including ones on the Hyperloop, colonising Mars, and robots and drones. Mr Fry is expected to do the voiceovers for several of these.
John Leaver, one of the co-founders, said: "I started Pindex out of frustration with the dull, dry material my 10-year-old daughter would bring home from school.
"Making every topic engaging is a huge task - too much for any one person. Pindex enables teachers and professors to share their best material. Working together like this is the only way to solve the problem."
Pindex's four-person team includes Mr Fry, who offers creative direction and Mr Leaver, who comes from a video background. "Stephen is an incredibly nice guy and he's genuinely enthusiastic about education," said Mr Leaver, who met Mr Fry while filming a video for a charity.
"We're fortunate to not need financial investment at the moment. We'll start talks with investors fairly soon, but there's no rush."
Mr Fry, who has made educational documentaries in the past, said: "At a time when it is easy to lose faith in an online world that seems to centre around trolling, bullying, hating, trivialising and belittling, it is worth remembering the incredible power of the internet to inform and educate, lucidly and entertainingly.
"We'd like to welcome teachers, professors and anyone with a passion to share the most engaging and captivating material at pindex.com."
Mr Fry's previous tech investments have had varying degrees of success. His first venture, Pushnote, a site that let users comment on any web page, folded in 2012 within 18 months of launching.
But Mr Fry also backed 17-year-old Nick D'Aloisio's Summly, a news summarisation service, which sold to Yahoo for a reported $30 million.
Mr Fry is expected to invest a significant amount of time in Pindex through 2016. "Creating a lot of high quality material is going to be a marathon for us. We expect to spend a lot of time on that over the next year or so," said Mr Leaver.
As it expands, Pindex will grow its library by curating more material from external makers. "We’ll soon be inviting bloggers and YouTube educators to curate material on Pindex, as they research topics, so their audiences can learn in more depth," said Mr Leaver.
Mr Fry deleted his Twitter account yesterday after his comment that costume designer Jenny Beavan was "dressed like a bag lady" at the BAFTAs attracted huge backlash. Mr Fry, who was among the first high-profile British celebrities to join Twitter, had 12 million followers before he removed the account.