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Feb 9, 2022


Victoria Ransom 

Victoria Ransom is a serial entrepreneur from New Zealand. She has developed four companies including Wildfire Interactive, a social marketing SaaS company, where Ransom was CEO until it was sold to Google in 2012. She was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for New Zealand in 2011. Fortune Magazine honored her as one of the Forty Most Powerful Women Under Forty in 2012. In 2013, she was invited to the White House by President Barack Obama to receive a "Champion of Change" award recognizing her contributions as an immigrant entrepreneur. In 2015, she was awarded the World Class New Zealander award along with former New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark. In 2016, she was NEXT Woman of the Year in the Business and Innovation category.

In 2020, Ransom co-founded Prisma, a remote education startup. Victoria has been interviewed by Bloomberg News, The Corner Office, The New York Times and The Wallstreet Journal.


Show Notes

Jenna’s intro: Jenna begins the show by reminding listeners that they can leave a voicemail for the podcast and she will read it on the show. Good or bad, she wants your input! Your comments, feedback and suggestions are much appreciated. You can find the link here.  

Jenna introduces Victoria and explains that while the online school Prisma is not completely self-directed, it can be a good fit for families with kids that need more structure or are eager for more of a community in light of challenges to group meet-ups during the pandemic. Prisma is an alternative flex school with five week cycles during the year. This makes it a good choice for unschoolers to participate in and for world schoolers who do a lot of traveling. 

Victoria tells us a bit about her journey. She is the mother of three and her journey in education began when her oldest reached school age. One thing that concerned her with traditional education was the rapidly changing world we live in, which she believed needed a broader skill set than conventional schools could provide. She was also concerned about the fierce competition and stressful environment, especially where she lives in northern California. She researched homeschooling, alternative and micro schools. She wanted a flexible environment where children could be led by their interests. Something that focused on problem solving and critical thinking. This is when she began to imagine creating something that would not only be best for her own children, but for other families as well. 

Jenna asks Victoria to tell us who Prisma serves. What do the families enrolled in Prisma look like?    

Victoria says that a common thread is that most of the parents at Prisma want their children to love learning. They are looking to Prisma to provide a toolbox that can help them be able to do many types of work by teaching them critical thinking and problem solving. The kids should be challenged and excited. 


Jenna asks about the ages and prior circumstances of the children enrolled in Prisma.


Victoria tells us that the program currently serves grades 4 - 8 at the moment with plans to expand. Prisma grew quite a bit during Covid19 because many children were homeschooling. With Prisma, families found much more flexibility versus a traditional school moved to online. Some of the kids in Prisma are gifted and just felt bored or unchallenged at school. Some have difficulties that made conventional school difficult for them. These children thrive when they are able to move at their own pace. Victoria mentions that Prisma does do some assessment tests and academic growth is occurring.   


Jenna asks what a typical Prisma day looks like. 


Victoria says that students meet up several times a day. There are workshops, learner clubs, and projects. Coaches help a few kids at a time. Each of the 5 week cycles has a theme. For example, one cycle the theme was “Unchartered Territories.” Within this theme some of the subjects they learned about were space and deep sea exploration. Also, the children regularly do presentations for the parents. In core subjects math, writing and reading the children learn skills that they can apply to real world problems. 


Jenna asks how the child’s interests come into play.


Victoria answers that a coach might encourage them to do a ‘Journey.’ For example, a fifth grader has started a ‘Journey’ to write a novel. Another student might decide to do a ‘Journey’ on space travel. Within the theme of the cycle, any student can propose their own project or ‘Journey.’ Within writing assignments kids are given a lot of choice and ability to write about things that they are excited about. 


Jenna wonders how the Prisma school works with world schoolers, as they can do the work remotely. 


Victoria says that the beauty of this model is that if the child has to be away for a while, they can adapt and alter the expectations for that student within the cycle. Every Prisma student can make their own schedule with the assistance of a coach. There are always physical aspects and options to the curriculum so that kids are not in front of a screen the whole time. 


Jenna brings up the financial aspect of choosing a school such as Prisma as some families would not be able to afford the cost. 


Victoria says that they have financial aid and that approx. 40% of the students are currently receiving some assistance. The school is also looking into trying some different ways to lower the cost and make it more available to everyone. One way to do this would be to offer different levels or versions which would involve more parent involvement. There are many plans in the works. As mentioned before they have plans  to extend the age range they serve. Victoria says that they are likely adding grades through high school but may not add grades younger than fourth. This is because younger children don’t do as well working in a virtual environment and fourth grade is often when kids start to lose interest in school.This could be connected to the fact that standardized testing often begins then. 


Jenna asks about how the Prisma families are registered in their state / country. As homeschoolers or as online schoolers. 


Victoria states that most are registered as homeschoolers. She says that the accreditation process has many disadvantages as there are criteria to meet which

might restrict their ability to run the school the way they envision.   

Jenna wonders if Prisma could work for unschoolers.     


Victoria says that yes, they do have a few unschoolers that attend a few cycles per year. She feels that it probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense to do Prisma if they only attended sporadically.           


Jenna wraps up the interview asking Victoria the four questions she usually asks all of her guests. 


  1. What are you curious about? Victoria says she is curious about education of course, but also health. Everything about it. Nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc. 


  1. What is your favorite way to learn? Victoria says her favorite way to learn is reading, then podcasts and the news. 


  1. Jenna changes it up with this question. (Usually she asks “What is a resource you want to share?”) This time she asks “How have you used self directed learning in your life?”

           Victoria says that as a young child she was very good at school and thrived in it. 

           But, as she got older she found it really hard to choose a career. 

           She became interested in education and entrepreneurship and once focused on  

           something she could really dig into, she went full swing into the self directed   

           learning path.    


 Jenna and Victoria briefly discuss their shared school experience and agree that maybe adults should be more mindful of a child’s interests / what excites them before we steer them down a career path or degree. Allow them space to figure out for themselves where they are headed. 


  1. What is your favorite blog, podcast or book that you would like to share? 

            Victoria names two books that she read recently. 

            The first is “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, Steve West et al.   

            Description: The first sleep book by a leading scientific expert - Professor Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab - reveals his groundbreaking exploration of sleep, explaining how we can harness its transformative power to change our lives for the better.

             The second is “No Rules Rules” by Reed Hastings, Erin Meyer et al.  

             Description: Hastings and Erin Meyer, best-selling author of The Culture Map and one of the world’s most influential business thinkers, dive deep into the controversial ideologies at the heart of the Netflix psyche, which have generated results that are the envy of the business world. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with current and past Netflix employees from around the globe and never-before-told stories of trial and error from Hastings’s own career, No Rules Rules is the fascinating and untold account of the philosophy behind one of the world’s most innovative, imaginative, and successful companies.


Helpful Resources Mentioned in Today's Show


“Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, Steve West et al. 


 “No Rules Rules” by Reed Hastings, Erin Meyer et al.


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