Interview With the Founder of Piper Mark Pavlyukovskyy

Naivety and Faith As a Startup Spark

Raise $11 million in investments, sell 8 computers to Elon Musk, reach out to Steve Wozniak and leave the product to launch a new one.

10 min readJul 1, 2019
Mark Pavlyukovskyy

Mark Pavlyukovskyy — creator of Piper, a computer-construction set for teaching kids programming using the popular game Minecraft.

The first thing a child sees opening a Piper box is a letter with a call to save the world. Minecraft reports that an asteroid is rapidly approaching the Earth and the disaster can be prevented only with the robot the user currently controls. But, the controllers, sensors, and other electronics have yet to be built.

After completing the mission, the user can build different hardware-features, using the acquired skills, and pass through all the levels again. Besides, that child can switch to Python and see that everything has been written in this language. Mark set a simple goal — to help children discover the inner workings of the gadgets already familiar to them from birth and to understand how they work.

Mark moved from Kharkiv to Louisiana when he was 9. He refers to himself as a third culture kid. In his childhood, the contrast between life in the scarcity of post-Soviet Ukraine and the US with its plentiful resources, left him with a strong impression. Mark realized that he was more fortunate than his peers; he had opportunities not available to them. Therefore, the basis of his projects, both student and business initially laid the thesis: talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is not. He intended to fight this injustice.

Mark graduated from Princeton University with a degree in molecular biology, went to graduate school at Oxford, came up with Piper, and…



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