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Overview of Function Space (@fspace314), Pune’s “Facebook for Science”

FirstPost has an good overview of Function Space – Pune’s Science Social Network, the startup founded by Pune’s Adit Gupta, Sakshi Majumdar, and Sumit Maniyar, and that was recently funded by Nexus Venture Partners.

How did Function Space get started?

The venture, started in April 2013, was conceived as a sort of Facebook for science – a way to make knowledge sharing accessible and approachable. Now known as Function Space, it uses the social learning model to make science easy and understandable for all skill levels – be it novices or experts.

In April 2013, both Gupta and Majmudar quit their jobs in the design and IT fields respectively, and decided to focus on creating a science platform full-time – within two months they had a basic prototype of what Function Space would look like. During that period, their current partner Sumit Maniyar heard about their venture through a common friend and soon after decided to join the duo.

How did they do the initial marketing for Function Space?

Maniyar, 28, explained how word about Function Space got out. “Adit’s friend posted that we were working on social learning science platform on Hackernews, a social news website dedicated to content related to computer science and entrepreneurship,” Maniyar said. Soon, someone picked up the thread and the discussion went viral.
Within a day’s time, the Function Space team had between 800-1000 people sending in requests for invitations to the beta site. As with many startups, word-of-mouth was Function Space’s number one marketing tool, with the team spending no money on advertising.

What exactly does Function Space do?

The main goal of the site is to bridge the gap between an academic curriculum to the skill-based requirements of the workplace. Through the use of videos, articles, problems, diagrams, equations and codes, the site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other on everything from algebra and applied maths to cosmology and particle physics to artificial intelligence.

For instance, a user might post a query or an opinion on a subject which could result in discussion threads that could include solutions, readings or even more questions and opinions. Users can also share news or post challenges for others to solve. Tabs on the screen allow users to navigate between sections like ‘Feed’, ‘News’ and ‘Challenges.’

What were the next challenges?

The buzz Function Space started out with helped it get noticed in a few hallowed educational institutions. PhD students and professors from universities like IITs, Stanford and MIT began logging in to check out the material being shared and sometimes even engaging with users from across 190 countries globally, Maniyar said.

But trawling through the mounds of sometimes useless data on the site to find that one IIT professor’s post was a painful task. So the Function Space team signed on volunteers to “sanitise the platform.”

“We get a lot of garbage on the site and maintaining the quality is a big challenge. It’s also difficult to find good talent,” he said. “The volunteers remove factually inaccurate content.”

As regular readers of PuneTech are aware, Function Space entered the list of tech companies in Pune that have recently raised funding last month, which now makes it one of Pune’s hottest young startups.

Naren Gupta, of Nexus Venture Partners who funded Function Space, points out how Function Space is different from a MOOC:

“Would anyone expect a Physics Noble prize winner to discuss relevant issues and share ideas on Quora?” he asked. “Function Space could take learning to new levels even beyond MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Courses). While MOOCs are one too many learning platforms, Function Space would become a many-to-many learning and discussions platform,” believes Gupta.

Read the full article on FirstPost.

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