He’s the founder and mastermind behind game-changing Brisbane startup Fiftysix, winner of the Australian Young Innovator of the Year for 2014, and he shared in $20,000 in seed funding following a live pitch event held by the Foundation for Young Australians.
Meet Taj Pabari – the 16 year-old-inventor who is taking the world by storm with his revolutionary DIY tablet kit for children.
Dubbed ‘the Lego of the 21st century’, the tablet cleverly combines computer hardware and software in a kit, enabling children to create their very own fully functioning “tablet computer that runs Android”.
As CEO of Fiftysix – the startup that developed the interactive tablet kit – Taj says his aim for the tablet was to inspire children to not just consume technology but to literally have a hand in creating and building it.
Although Taj’s company sells the educational tablet kit to schools for a cool $349, the Year 12 student says it is the charitable operations of Fiftysix that gets him really excited.
“Our not-for-profit arm is about giving more children opportunity,” says Taj who partners with the Foundation for Young Australians to build capacity in disadvantaged communities across Australia and parts of the world.
Taj explains, “Last year was about perfecting the tablet and getting it to market, this year is about international expansion, and giving back.
“Fiftysix is not just some random number I came up with as a company name – in numerology it means opportunity, and that’s what we are about at Fiftysix: creating opportunities for children, who don’t otherwise have the opportunity, to discover the world of entrepreneurship, technology and innovation.”
True to his word, Taj’s company has developed an accessible line of the tablet kit.
Remarkably, this new line of tablets does not compromise on quality, retaining many of the features of the original kit. Children can still build their own games, pitch business ideas on the built-in platform, and connect with other children and potential investors on the Fiftysix network of tablets.
However, there are some useful distinctions between the two tablets. “Unlike the commercial version of the tablet kit, the hardware on the version we donate has a more rugged design and it’s waterproof with shock proof casing while the software is heavier on visuals,” says Taj.
“Through pictures and diagrams, drag and drop functions, and experimenting with code, these kids can still build their tablet without having to read wordy instructions.
“So, they still get that hands on real-world experience in computer science, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation in one interactive platform.”
Taj has just returned from a whirlwind tour of rural Australia and parts of Asia, where his company donated 1000 devices to children.
His next stop – Kenya.