Mimir Aims to Streamline Computer Science Instruction, Tech Hiring

When Prahasith Veluvolu and a couple of buddies from Park Tudor High School matriculated at Purdue University three years ago, they decided to shut down the Web consulting business they had been running out of their childhood bedrooms.

Ending their consulting gig wasn’t enough to banish the startup bug, however, so Veluvolu and his friends—Jacobi Petrucciani and Colton Voege—decided in 2014 to enter The Boiler, an eight-week mini-accelerator and startup competition managed by the Anvil, a student-run business incubator.

“We explored problems we were having in our computer science classes,” Veluvolu recalls of early entrepreneurial brainstorming sessions with Petrucciani and Voege. “It was taking a long time to grade our assignments and get them back to us, and there was usually no feedback because the instructors were so busy. That made it really hard to keep up.”

So the trio created a simple system to automate grading and called it Mimir. The Boiler, seeing a potential solution to a much bigger problem, helped them refine and commercialize the tool. “We were still students, so we were doing all of this between classes,” Veluvolu says.

By the summer of 2015, the Mimir co-founders had progressed enough to apply to California’s esteemed Y Combinator accelerator. They were accepted, and the experience really helped the company take off, Veluvolu says.

Its core product, Mimir Classroom, is an automated, cloud-based tool that allows computer science instructors to manage and quickly grade programming coursework, complete with an algorithm to sniff out plagiarism. A year ago, the software was being used at approximately 20 schools; today, Veluvolu says, Mimir Classroom is in use at over 70 universities, including Johns Hopkins, UCLA, and the University of Michigan.

After their stint in Y Combinator, the team returned to West Lafayette, IN, and decided to tackle another challenge faced by those in the computer science field (among others): finding the best candidates to fill open jobs. So Mimir created a second cloud-based product called HireOrbit. Incorporating some of the core technology used in Mimir Classroom, HireOrbit is designed to save companies time and money by providing automated tools for candidate screening and technical interviewing. It also manages the entire hiring process, and is capable of taking applicants from screening to signed offer, Veluvolu says.

“We found that the majority of tech companies don’t track applicants, and those that do mostly use spreadsheets,” he adds. “What differentiates our product is the built-in skills vetting so the company doesn’t have to pull an engineer into the process. It tracks resumes, and there’s built-in video chat so you can do interviews right on the platform.”

There’s also a one-way video interviewing feature, where a hiring manager can e-mail a list of questions to a job candidate; HireOrbit would then record their answers and send the file to the company for review. Mimir plans to publicly launch HireOrbit in January, but Veluvolu says people can request early access on the company’s website.

Veluvolu says Mimir makes its money by charging a per-student fee for Mimir Classroom, and offers HireOrbit as a tiered service based on what kind of functionality … Next Page »

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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