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The Big Idea: The Dublin education company building a global audience of 1 million students

Examtime is just 18 months old, but already is making waves in the education world by putting students first.

Image: Sharp pix

IN A LOT of ways, Examtime isn’t a very typical start up.

They may have the Docklands office brimming with bright young things, and a product to boot – but you won’t find them schmoozing at the Web Summit, or hanging off the coat-tails of venture capitalists, looking for a cash injection.

But none of that has stopped them from acquiring nearly 600,000 users across the world since they were founded just a year and a half ago.

The company, according to founder Dualta Moore, wants to develop web tools that allow students and teachers to create “digital backpacks”.

DEVICES-PLANNER-565px Source: Examtime

In practice, this means building software that allows students to create flashcards, quizzes, mind maps and notes. These tools are saved to the cloud, meaning that the students can access them anywhere.

Gap in the market

The idea for Examtime, Moore says, came from seeing other virtual learning environments and ‘student software’ offerings. These, he argues, were constrained and inflexible. He thought he could do better.

“From our perspective, you would have seen traditional Virtual Learning Environments – Moodle, or Blackboard, or Web CT. They’re sold to the institution, and the student and the teacher is seen as a subset of that, it’s like they’ll take what they’re given.”

Students and teachers couldn’t do what they wanted on it.It was set by the institution, and then they had these sort of folder options, and that was it. They could upload documents to it and that was it – there was zero flexibility on offer.

The idea behind Examtime was to be the exact opposite – to perfect a few simple tools, and then allow users the flexibility to embed and share them, as well as to form groups within the service’s architecture – it is what you make of it.

vlcsnap-2013-11-27-17h03m53s155 Source: Examtime

“We built our system with the student and the teacher in mind, and tried to make it as flexible as possible.”

The results speak for themselves. Retention and usage rates of the service by its current 600,000 users are healthy, with Moore predicting growth to around 1 million by the end of the year. The product has jumped across borders too, making major inroads in the Latin and North American markets.

By this time next year he hopes that the company, which has hitherto been partially supported by revenues from his other businesses, will be able to break even and stand on its own two feet. He has ambitious plans to grow it beyond its current 25 person team.

Trends

Examtime, Moore argues, is moving with the preferences of his customers – the students.

“Traditionally, education has been about one book, so you can buy your book for physics for the leaving – now with the advent of technology, kids are consuming information in bite size, as opposed to having to buy one book…they can build up whole curricula based on this.”

The students are streaking ahead. They’re demanding different ways to learn. I think we’re just filling a gap and offering them a solution.

In terms of making money from the business, Moore is looking at a few options. While his focus for the moment is building an audience, he said that revenues are always in the back of his mind. The company recently launched a paid-for premium model, and is looking at other ways of generating cash in the business.

PIC PAUL SHARP/SHARPPIX Dualta Moore Source: Examtime.com

“There’s a number of opportunities – there’s the advertising model, institutions buying white label, there’s a number of ways of doing it.”

In the interim, there’s no shortage of interest from venture capitalists, but with numbers like the ones Examtime is boasting after just 18 months, Moore can afford to be choosy.

This month’s theme on TheJournal.ie’s SME hub is the Education sector.

Read: Now there’s €40 million up for grabs if software’s your bag>

Read: Explainer – How did Stripe become a $1.75 billion company>

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About the author:

Jack Horgan-Jones

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