When longtime software engineer Sheffie Robinson realized there was a glaring gap in the educational courses her son needed to be successful in his career, a bigger picture emerged of how others are currently facing the same dilemma – a problem Robinson now aims to solve.
Robinson, who has worked as a software engineer for over 20 years, has developed Shamrck, an artificial intelligence-powered career exploration platform that helps schools create better career and technical education programs by connecting students to employers.
“We want to help students find their ideal career path and start training them. This project didn’t start till November last year in response to Covid’s impact on education. I used my experience in software to develop this,” she said. “My son was not being taught calculus, which he needs to know. I thought about how many students were affected by this, not getting what they need for their actual careers. I figured out how much of a gap there is, and a degree isn’t enough.”
Robinson had a software company that suffered during the pandemic, which led her to focus on this initiative to focus on college and career paths, which resulted in mapping out different options for a student such as pursuing entrepreneurship, attending a trade school or enlisting in the military.
For students, Shamrck assesses the student user by conducting an assessment test. The student then is provided resources on specific topics for the career path that best suits them and work-based opportunities.
The platform delivers a trifecta effect as it is not only guiding students to a career path but also is befitting employers in scouting for talent and aiding in the success rate for education systems.
“The system helps students find local resources in the area. For my son, we linked him with a robotics team in Mississippi. That’s where his 3D modeling experience came from, by interacting with nonprofits and entering competitions,” she said.
Robinson, a military spouse, said if the student were to decide they intend to join the military, the goal then becomes helping that individual with testing for the ASVAB (the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test.
Robinson currently lives in Mississippi due to the proximity of a duty station. She is in the process of relocating her business to St. Petersburg and is a member of Thrive DTSP, a co-working space where companies such as Codeboxx and the Australian retail and tech company CitrusAd are based.
“Tampa Bay is our retirement plan, this is where we wanted to be for a long time,” she said.
Currently, Shamrck’s app is available solely on the website and Robinson doesn’t plan to have a mobile app. There are over 700 users on the platform and she expects the company will be onboarding 2,700 over the coming weeks.
Shamrck has 11 employees and three service member interns from the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, she said.
Robinson was recognized as one of 50 African American business owners from around the country to be part of Google’s Black Founders Fund. As part of the recognition, Robinson received $100,000 from Google to help grow her business, and an additional $100,000 in Google ads and credits.
Robinson was also selected to be part of Tampa Bay Wave’s Tech Women Rising Cohort.
Today, Shamrck is raising a pre-seed round of $500,000. She said the long-term plan is to go public in four to seven years.
Robinson wants to have a relationship with MacDill Air Force Base as well as the University of South Florida. Through the St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation, the organization helped her get connected to the St. Petersburg Community College.