Emerging Tech Giant Taylor Shead, CEO of Stemuli, Talks AI-Driven Academic Learning and More

By: Keeshala Henderson

Taylor Shead
Taylor Shead

Taylor Shead is the founder and CEO of Stemuli, a minority-owned gaming technology company with a core mission to ensure every student graduates career and workforce ready via a 3D gaming experience utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to create an educational metaverse.  As the 94th Black woman in the history of the world to have raised over $1M in venture capital, Taylor’s emerging platform is positively impacting the learning outcomes of students by focusing on student engagement. Featured in The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Business Journal, D Magazine, Forbes and AT&T Small Business Customers, Stemuli is bridging the gap in educational opportunities offered to all socioeconomic backgrounds, which notably started with our very own Dallas Independent School District.

SDM – Stemuli started out as a platform to connect corporate mentors to high school students in partnership with the Dallas Independent School District and corporations such as American Airlines, IBM and Southwest.  How did this exceptional concept begin and how did the program impact the students?  

Taylor – Back in 2016, Stemuli became a founding industry partner for P-TECH (Pathways to Technology Early College High School) and I met with the students every Friday to share my experiences as an emerging tech leader and to create a safe space where students could be mentored and supported. At the end of the year, I asked the students who they enjoyed partnering with the most and what all they had learned. Their response was that they only knew me and Stemuli. I immediately knew there was a problem if my company of one was the only corporation connecting with these young minds. From there, our founding mission became clear. We set out to develop a platform that could help scale the impact, reach and connection of corporations and learners in the P-TECH program. After we were able to prove success in Dallas, we have been able to expand to other districts like Fort Worth and Garland. We have always known that there are glaring inequities in the education system, but to experience it and hear it from the kids firsthand made our mission clear:

Our mission is to use AI and video games to ensure students of all socioeconomic backgrounds are prepared for the workforce and are on a path to build generational wealth.

Stemuli Crew
Stemuli Crew

SDM – When the pandemic hit and resulted in school closures, Stemuli shifted and built a phenomenal virtual platform with the Dallas Independent School District as co-designer.  What is your innovative platform, educational Metaverse, and the benefits?

Taylor – Stemuli is 3D, immersive gaming platform that navigates a student from where they are in school to an intellectually and financially fulfilling career. We leverage the power of online communities, AI, and proven approaches to game-based learning to create a “metaverse ecosystem”. One of the proven outcomes we are most proud of is that students using the Navigator accelerated by 2.89 years in Math in one year while students in the same district not using the Navigator experienced learning loss. Other benefits we’ve seen are decreased drop-out rates, increased graduation rates, increased Algebra 1 proficiency, and increased industry partnership engagement.

We are the only platform that students can access from the time they are in middle school until they finish college and get a job. Our number one goal is preparing kids for their dream job and showing them how it can be a reality. That’s why we start with math proficiency.

We know that only 25% of 8th grade students are proficient in math. The first needle we want to move is helping students pass Algebra I in 8th grade because math proficiency can be correlated to lifetime earning potential. Students have already lost $900B in lifetime earning potential due to pandemic learning loss. The next major problem we aim to solve is student engagement. Our big bet is AI and video games can help engage learners at an unprecedented level, and truly provided a personalized learning journey for all students across all subjects.

Stemuli Crew
Stemuli Crew

SDM – What does a classroom experience look like for the student and an educator?  What technology is needed?

Taylor – One of the things I love most about our classroom experience is that accessibility is at the forefront of everything we do. When people think of the metaverse, they automatically think VR, but headsets are expensive and not accessible to all students. Our metaverse was developed “screen-first”, meaning it can be displayed on your phone or laptop. Students are placed into an immersive world where we’ve made learning as fun as their favorite video games.

Our teachers are spread thin and aren’t able to be everywhere for everyone at once. Within our platform, teachers are able to access a student’s Hi-line and Skyline. The Skyline is the highest competency level a student has mastered in real time. The Hi-line is the destination for the student i.e. being able to read on grade level. Our AI identifies struggling students and is able to auto-connect them to validated resources and strategies that are course specific to ensure no learner is left behind.

Taylor Shead
Taylor Shead

SDM – There are so many exceptional facets to your educational metaverse.  What type of research was conducted to build the platform to connect gaming with learning outcomes?

Taylor – When we launched our virtual classroom

with 10k students, we spent countless hours studying the data outputs. This helped to inform our decision to move into the classroom space because with the research we were able to assess how disengaged students were in science and math. When the CTO of Dallas ISD challenged us to do something no one else in the world was doing, all roads pointed to us building school in a video game. We studied Minecraft, Roblox, and The Sims, and ultimately landed on a hybrid of all three. Beyond this, our live experiences are our research: live testing, hiring P-TECH students, strategic partnerships, and designing our technology Dallas Hybrid Prep students, teachers, and stakeholders.

SDM – Your focus is on improving the engagement and learning retention of students, while also incentivizing learning through earning points.  How have you integrated components of building wealth and workforce development into your platform?

Taylor – There are a few ways we are integrating building wealth and workforce development. Within our world we’re able to go beyond the limitations of physical workspaces by making paid internships and apprenticeships available at scale. Additionally, they can earn $25 within our virtual city for every course or skill they master. We want to give kids a sense of ownership and feel this is a tangible way to start the conversation of what it looks like to build wealth. In a future release, students will be able to invest the money that they earn into businesses or real estate to show students a wide range of opportunities to invest their money.

At the end of the day, creating jobs and changing lives is the DNA of our company. We want students to be able to equate how hard they work in school to how much they can earn in the future.

SDM – You’ve shared the benefits and impact to students. How does the educational metaverse impact educators?

Taylor – We already have a teacher shortage, so we knew we needed to build a platform that would alleviate stress on our teachers and that doesn’t create more work for them. Our platform is adaptive and specialized to each student. It locates each student wherever they are in their learning journey and guides them on a path to their goal. We provide all key stakeholders with access to real-time, actionable insights to help them best support the learner.


SDM – What were your deciding factors to initiate your programs with the Dallas Independent School District first? 

Taylor – There is critical work to be done in order to bridge the educational and opportunity gap. We’re starting at the beginning of the leaky tech pipeline by prioritizing the largest urban school districts in the US, where the majority of the students are economically disadvantaged. I’m a proud Dallasite, but we have a lot of work to do. I wanted the city that I call home to first experience the power of the metaverse and we are continuing to scale from there.


SDM – How did the concept of the first Dallas Hybrid Preparatory School begin and what are some highlights you can share regarding the campus, students, program and educators?

Taylor – This was a dream of Dr. Michael Hinojosa and Angie Gaylord and we were excited to partner together to bring it to life. Founding principal, Dr. Olga Romero, and I connected at the beginning of 2021 and when they got to experience what we were building, they knew it was a perfect fit for the innovative experience they’ve been dreaming of and wanted to provide it to their kids.

Dallas Hybrid Prep students in the 2021 – 2022 school year outperformed peers in district assessments in Math, Science, and Reading by 10+ points. We accredit this to the community, culture, and innovative mindset of the educators, parents, and principal.

We took all the data and feedback from users at DHP and have implemented an AI-driven navigated learning experience.


Taylor Shead
Taylor Shead

SDM – As a 2021 STOP Award Finalist, you shared your plans to transform learning across the world with the educational Metaverse platform.  What other locations are currently utilizing your platform?

Taylor – New York, Chicago and we’re moving into Minnesota, Colorado, Florida, and Georgia. By the end of this year we are projecting to hit a national audience. I hope everyone follows our journey. We are actively working on some partnerships that could put Dallas and Stemuli on the map.

Our Navigator technology is already used by over 29 million students across the world, but we’re most excited about the innovative and transformative schools we’re partnering with. Just one quick example, we’re partnering with Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Fort Worth to help their girls become proficient in Algebra I by building it into a video game.

The momentum we’re gaining is immense and there is no location we don’t want to reach in the next 12 months.

SDM – Is there anything else you would like to share about Stemuli or its future plans?

Regarding future plans, we fell in love with the outcomes of Dallas ISD’s P-TECH model where 73% of students graduate with a post-secondary degree. We are working with the most influential leaders in North Texas to digitize the P-TECH program, so that all students in our region can have access to the same life changing opportunities that P-TECH provides. Only now, it’s available through a video game in the palm of their hand.

Last year Stemuli raised $3.25M in our seed round of investor funding. That investment positioned me as the 94th Black Woman in the history of the world to have raised over $1M in venture capital and it positioned Stemuli to be able to develop a strategic partnership that will enable us to scale our platform to reach millions of learners. I want Dallas and the rest of the world to know that we are just getting started.

SDM – Thank you Taylor and Stemuli staff for your commitment to our youth, educators and Dallas.   We are proud of your success and cannot wait to see what the future holds for Stemuli!

Website:  https://stemuli.net/

Our goal at Southern Dallas County Business & Living Magazine is to bring you the latest information on issues relating to Southern Dallas County. We will have monthly feature stories on CEOs and business owners, marketing tips, dining, finance, commercial and residential real esate, investing, social issues and other interesting, thought-provoking and useful information.

Stay Up-To-Date With Southern Dallas Magazine!
[mc4wp_form id="314"]