Homework helper Hero: Neil Gupta, TeenMesh | December 6, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - December 6, 2013

Homework helper Hero: Neil Gupta, TeenMesh

Online site and developer win Tri-Valley Heroes award for Innovation

by Glenn Wohltmann

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.com, 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.

Neil Gupta 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


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