By Riley Kaminer
Towards the onset of the pandemic, Nathan Leight began to become preoccupied with how we are living in an increasingly polarized society.
“I really started thinking about how to get people to talk to each other, and how to create a more informed citizenry,” Leight told Refresh Miami.
“Why was there so little civil discourse? In thinking about the world that my children would be entering, I began to think about how I could become part of the solution.”
Leight quickly realized that adults were “a lost cause,” but that children represented an opportunity for a better future.
And so the longtime financier and software founder decided to work on what would become e-learning platform The Juice.
The Juice provides interactive content with the goal to make the learning process more enjoyable. Its proprietary content enables students to increase their reading comprehension level by a year and a half after just around 20 sessions of around 20 minutes each, Leight said. One unique aspect of the platform is that all the content that is released daily is available at all reading levels.
“Every child in the classroom is reading the same narrative, which is incredibly efficient for an educator,” he said. “Now they can have one conversation so every child is included.”
Leight shared that using The Juice’s platform has made children enjoy reading more. That is critical in a context where reading has a profound impact on students’ future lives in a country where 50% of adults read under a 6th grade level.
“The state of Florida and a number of other states look at reading scores of elementary school children to determine how many penitentiary cells they’re going to have to build in the future,” noted Leight. “Reading truly is important. It is incredibly predictive of the quality of life you have and how you can participate in society as a whole.”
Since launching approximately four years ago, The Juice has grown to 19 full-time employees, plus a handful of contractors. Besides Leight, The Juice’s CFO, General Council, compliance team, and content lead are all in South Florida. It has raised around $12 million from angel investors.
Earlier this month, The Juice was one of 15 startups selected for Amazon Web Services’ inaugural Education Accelerator cohort – a program that received upwards of 1,400 applications. The Juice was the only Florida-based startup selected for the global cohort.
“It was a competitive journey, and we feel very lucky to have been chosen,” said Leight. Across 10 weeks, The Juice will receive a wide variety of mentorship and coaching from AWS, on top of up to $100,000 in AWS computing credits.
Leight, a Miami native (and proud Miami Beach Senior High graduate) left to build a career on Wall Street but returned to Miami in 2002. “It’s been incredibly exciting to see so many smart people coming down to South Florida – and not just for vacation!”
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