News

Tri-Valley Hero: Danville teen heads homework-helping site

Neil Gupta receives Innovation award for creating TeenMesh

A trip to India, a desire to continue a program from there and some Internet know-how led to the creation of TeenMesh, a new international homework-helping league based in Danville.

Creator Neil Gupta received a Heroes award for Innovation for creating TeenMesh, a free homework website that uses teen peers to help answer tough questions.

Gupta, who recently turned 16, is a junior at Monte Vista High School in Danville.

"I lived in Danville all my life, but in 2010 through 2012, I lived in India, and attended the American Embassy School where I did this program called 'Teach India,'" Gupta explained. "It was all about reaching kids from the poor areas of New Delhi and teaching them math and English in a peer-to-peer way."

After he moved back to the U.S. late last year, Gupta started work on TeenMesh.

"It took about two months to actually develop it and by January this year, when it was published, I finally launched the site and I started getting people to use it and people on the site to help each other out on school work," he said.

The concept is simple: Someone will post a question, and one of a growing team of homework helpers will not only answer the question, but explain the answer as well.

"After you sign up, you ask the question and it shows up as a post. Anyone can see this question, anyone from around the world. If someone knows how to answer the question, they'll help you," Gupta said. "They post an answer on your question and if it's one of the best answers, it can be marked as the best answer and it gets voted up and down."

Those who answer questions don't get anything -- yet -- but do gain status by racking up points. And people who ask questions can answer others and vice versa.

"If you answer a lot, there's a place system, so people who answer get a lot of points and they go up in ranking," Gupta said. "The users with the higher ranking, they get prestige, they get more known across the site."

Gupta said there's a pay option, too, for students who need the answer to a question right away, say within an hour. He's hoping to be able to offer frequent answerers some bonus cash at some point in the future.

Right now, he's organizing the site as a nonprofit so tax-free donations can be made and offered out.

"I will be approaching local businesses to see if they would reward a student on TeenMesh that has replied the most in a month, so a 'Pizza Hut Hero of the Month' would get a pizza coupon or cash," he said. Any interested business is welcome to contact Gupta directly at his email, neilagupta@gmail.com.

He's hoping that can help build the site's knowledge base by bringing in more students.

"There's a big ratio between kids asking for help and the kids answering questions, (but) there are still many answerers and they're all over the world," he said. "Usually there's one answerer for every four questioners."

With less than a year in operation, TeenMesh has already drawn help from across the globe.

"There's one person in Australia, and another person in Canada who are part of the team helping us out. The one in Canada, in Vancouver, British Columbia, his name is Karan Khanna, who I went to school with in India. He's working for TeenMesh right now," Gupta said.

Also involved are two teens from the Bay Area.

"I have another team member, his name is Armaan Sengupta. He's a freshman at Dublin High, and he's helped me out the most. He was the first to join me and he was the first to join TeenMesh," Gupta said. "Peter Linde, he lives in Belmont and he's also helping in marketing."

TeenMesh has taken off, with more than 1,000 active users in 70 countries.

But what may be the most impressive thing about the site is that it's run by teens for teens. Linde is 13, Sengupta is 15, Khanna is 16 and Adya Roy, who's marketing the program in Australia, is 17.

Heroes FYI

* Apart from programming and math, Gupta's passion is music. He's played the piano since he was 4 years old, encouraged by his grandfather, a musician himself. Gupta has participated in numerous music contests and has picked up some awards along the way.

* Topped the Trinity (Music) Exam in Delhi in 2010.

* Performed in the TeenMurti Bhavan in New Delhi.

* Attended the Adult Summer Course in piano in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

* Self-described "huge 49ers fan" and tries to watch every game he can.

* Plans to study computer science in college to "solve real world problems with technology."

* Guilty pleasure: video games

Comments

Posted by V, a resident of Blackhawk
on Dec 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Wonderful story .. smart idea!

Good Luck.


Posted by Shirley Meloy, a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

I read this article just after reading about Ken Behring. It sounds like they have much in common: using their skills and assets to support others - even world wide. So exemplary!


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Understanding Early Decision in College Admissions
By Elizabeth LaScala | 1 comment | 2,057 views

New heights for NIMBYs
By Tim Hunt | 29 comments | 1,351 views

When those covering the news become the news
By Gina Channell-Allen | 1 comment | 938 views

Earthquake Insurance
By Roz Rogoff | 2 comments | 755 views

Merger of Music and Painting
By John A. Barry | 0 comments | 125 views