People We Admire – Pooja Nath Sankar


Pooja Nath Sankar is a woman entrepreneur, CEO and Founder of Piazza

I am so inspired by Pooja Nath Sankar. I first heard of her during a recent NPR interview. She grew up in a conservative rural village with no electricity and no running water. Strict rules did not allow her to speak to men. She couldn’t even look them in the eye.

With her parent’s encouragement Pooja excelled in school and she was accepted to the Indian Institute of Technology where only 1% of applicants are accepted. She studied computer science and was 1 of 3 woman in her major. Because of the rules against speaking to the opposite sex she had no one to turn to for help. In contrast, the men in her class had a large social network, being able to study together helping each other to get through difficult assignments. Yet Pooja persevered and earned a master’s degree in Computer Science and an MBA at the Stanford business school. 

While studying at Stanford, Pooja recognized that the same problem she faced in India was occurring at Stanford and other universities across the U.S. – a lack of peer-to-peer learning. This inspired her to figure out a way to improve the ability for students to work with their peers to get the help they need quickly. To accomplish her mission, Pooja left a lucrative job, leaving her stock options behind. She tapped into her savings, drained her bank account and built the Piazza platform by herself.

Piazza changed the way students and instructors ask for and provide course help online. With a clean, efficient, and free interface, tailored to meet the needs of specific classes, Piazza improves instructors availability and allows students to ask their peers questions anonymously.

Piazza gives students the intellectual space, freedom, and support to fulfill their potential. And it empowers instructors to have a positive, personal impact on more students.

Today, nearly a million students in more in hundreds college campuses use Piazza to improve their ability to learn. All because of Pooja’s vision, mission and commitment. Talk about making a difference in the world.

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