Co-founders John Schuster and Nate MacDonald met while working at a Marin County, CA, school district. Nate was teaching math and offering an elective STEM course to middle school students, and John was hosting “lunch and learn” events to teach kids circuitry. (His “real” job was in the district’s IT department.) Determined to better engage their students, they teamed up to find the best ed-tech toys for understanding circuits and how they work. After reviewing a number of electronic kits — and even hacking some to create the quintessential teaching tools they envisioned — Nate and John decided the only course was to make their own. A crude early design was launched at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 and their first company, IgnitED Learning, was born. (The name was later changed to Tenka Labs, “Tenka” meaning “ignited” in Japanese.) John soon quit his job in order to concentrate full-time on prototyping the set of electronic tiles that eventually became Circuit Cubes. A year later, Nate ended his teaching career to devote himself full-time to designing a toy line that is as much fun to use as it is educational.
Robert MacDonald, CFO, is a serial entrepreneur, seasoned CEO, and expert venture capitalist with a gift for finding tech and bio companies that make a difference in people's lives. A former U.S. Army officer, Bob took his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering at Cornell and his MBA as a Baker Scholar at Harvard. He and his wife live near the ocean in Western Marin County.
Nate MacDonald, co-founder and VP of Education, is a mechanical engineer with a masters degree in education. A lifelong tinkerer, Nate formerly worked with Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) before switching course to follow his passion as a teacher in the STEM field. A recipient of Marin County’s 2015 Golden Bell award for outstanding educators, Nate has led both First Lego and First Robotics teams with his middle school students. Nate lives with his wife and two children in Marin County.
CDO and Co-founder John Schuster is a reformed IT professional and engineering designer with a passion for helping kids learn through educational opportunities that are fun. Formerly with Level 3 Communications, John is a self-trained Maker who left the sanctuary of an academic career to go full-time with Tenka Labs in 2015. A former Marine, John and his family live in San Francisco.
Audrey Donaldson, CEO and President, is a toy-industry veteran who brings decades of leadership experience to the executive team. Prior to taking the helm at Tenka Labs, she was head of e-commerce for Maker Media and before that, a product manager at LeapFrog.
Audrey holds a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Rochester and a B.F.A. in graphic design from the Academy of Art University. She lives in Mill Valley, California.
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