Interviews / 14 December 2016
ProSky Happy Hour with Studypool
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Tim Elkana

Tell me about Studypool’s birth and growth.

Studypool began as a dorm room project during my sophomore year. Jimmy (my co-founder) and I saw that many of our friends were frustrated when they got stumped on academic concepts and would come to us for help. Ultimately we ended up solving their problems by building a platform which was an early version of Studypool. 

Month over month our platform grew in popularity and soon we had thousands of users and thousands of dollars going through. Students came to our site and were asking questions on subjects like programming, algebra, business, and physics. We realized that there was a huge need for a learning marketplace and we could really make this idea into something huge.

What’s Studypool’s company mantra? Or, why does Studypool exist?

Our mantra is simply to make information more efficient; which I believe is a great service to society. For example, the invention of language, the printing press, and the internet have all led to great advancements due to the increased accessibility of information. One way of making information more efficient is by creating marketplaces that incentivize information transfers in ways that aren’t possible without the incentive structures. This is the model we have based Studypool upon, and the potential of this concept really excites me and shapes the direction we are growing this company.

What’s Studypool’s plan for changing the world?

We really want to shift the paradigm of learning to where students control how they want to learn instead of the present system where institutions control the learning. Currently, education is not very flexible to meet the needs of individual students. 

At a very early age, students are taught that learning is a race or a competition against others. Even in kindergarten, children are being evaluated and as a result, many students just drop out of learning and education when they feel they can’t measure up to their peers. This isn’t because they don’t like learning and education but because they feel they have been beaten down and give up. The current system makes students feel that learning is all about passing or failing when instead learning is nothing more than an exercise to enhance your knowledge on any subject.

What’s the most important advice for students trying to survive and thrive in college?

Take advantage of all the resources that colleges provide you. College advisors, professor office hours, and career advisors are all valuable resources to get the most out of your college experience. It’s very important to pursue the subjects that interest you because ultimately learning is not effective if it’s not for something you enjoy. When learning, nothing else matters except for the improvement of your knowledge and skills.

What’s the best advice for entrepreneurs trying to disrupt the education industry?

Reach out to as many students and teachers as you can, and figure out what would make their lives easier. If you are still a student, you have an advantage since you’re young and still immersed in the education system. This environment surrounds you with many resources, and all you have to do is look around and reach out. Don’t be afraid to try things and fail, the entire startup process is basically continually failing and learning why you failed and then trying something different. It’s all part of a learning experience.