On this episode of Office Hours, host Spencer Rascoff talks with Steven Wolfe Pereira about Encantos, a platform designed to help kids learn 21st century skills through storytelling.
Pereira got his start as an entrepreneur when he was young, selling used comic books in New York, where he grew up.
His mother, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, and his father, born and raised in the Bronx, were both teachers who believed heavily in the importance of education.
“One of the key things that you’re taught is that the thing that no one can ever take away from you is education,” said Pereira.
In developing Encantos, Pereira wanted a platform that helped teach kids life and education skills that they don’t often learn in the classroom. The program features classes that teach everything from social awareness and compassion to multilingualism and financial literacy.
“We want to really have a playful learning approach. And it’s actually grounded in learning science. But the whole idea of, ‘hey, we want to bring something to the world that would really resonate’,” said Pereira.
Beyond a teaching tool, Pereira sees Encantos as a creator platform, where artists of all sorts can offer lesson ideas. Pereira sees it as a way to open the gates for creators of color, in particular, to build a portfolio of work.
“If you are a creator, you have a really hard time getting your stuff out into the world, no matter what type of creator,” Pereira said. “But when it comes to the kids-and-family space, it is almost impossible for you to actually get a book published or to do an animated series, or anything like that.”
Encantos aims to let creators publish their work on the platform and own the intellectual property.
Pereira’s journey to publishing is an unusual one. he studied international relations and economic development, and expected to do development work at the World Bank. But an internship through Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) got him working with Blackstone Group, and gave him a taste of finance.
“I didn’t know anything about this world of finance. And it’s one of those things where at SEO they teach you, you have to be the first one in and the last person out,” said Pereira.
The experience pulled Pereira into the world of technology and media. He has been working in tech ever since.
Disclaimer: Spencer Rascoff is an investor in Encantos.
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dot.LA Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.