Learning communities and Q&A forums have always been popular among Internet users. From question and answer sites like Yahoo Answers or Quora to language learning communities like busuu or italki, there is a plethora of peer-learning sites available.
Brainly, one of the fastest growing European edtech startups, connects middle school and high school students via its global network of localized communities. Using the free service, students can help each other with their homework by asking and answering questions.
The Polish startup raised a €9 million Series A and opened its first overseas office in New York City last year.
Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.
Brainly is the world’s largest social learning network. At brainly.com, and its group of websites around the world, high school and middle school aged students connect to both receive and offer help with homework problems and questions. The unique opportunity for students to freely ask questions and gain the confidence that comes from helping others, inspires students to learn in a collaborative community that receives more than half a million visitors each month. Based in Krakow, Poland, with its US headquarters in New York City, Brainly is currently available in 35 countries, representing 12 languages. More information about Brainly is available on meet.brainly.co.
Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.
Brainly’s co-founder and CEO is Michał Borkowski. The other two co-founders are Tomasz Kraus and Łukasz Haluch.
How was the idea for your startup born?
The company was founded in 2009 in Poland under the name, Zadane.pl. Michał felt like there is a need for an online space for students to exchange knowledge and help filling each others’ gaps in it. Brainly believes that every student has a strength and can use it to help others.
In 2012, we rebranded the company as Brainly, with sites like Zadane.pl operating under the Brainly group. Brainly launched its U.S. operations in the Spring of 2014. Our corporate headquarters are in Krakow, Poland and the U.S. headquarters are in NYC.
What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.
Brainly helps students get unstuck with their schoolwork problems. Using the Q&A platform, it gives them the little push they need to continue their work. All problems on Brainly are solved by the community of over 40 million monthly users worldwide.
Who are your competitors? What sets you apart from them?
First, Brainly helps students learn how to answer the exact homework question they have. It’s really one of a kind type of help. Second, Brainly has a network of more than 600 volunteer moderators that review answers to insure the accuracy of the response. If a student thinks a response is incorrect, they can flag it to a moderator who will verify the answer for them. Our network of moderators helps to set us apart from search engines because we have people on hand to review/respond in a timely manner.
Our competitors include: Yahoo Answers, Quora, Wikipedia, Open Study, although none of them does exactly what Brainly does.
In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.
Brainly has 12 language versions, that operate in over 35 countries. Some of our largest markets are Russia, Poland, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, India and USA.
Who is your target audience.
K-12 students are Brainly’s main audience. The largest group of users are 13-18 years old.
How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.
Most of the users come to Brainly seeking help with their school problems. After they ask a question, help comes usually within minutes. Thanks to the system of points and the competition on the website, users are encouraged to start helping others with their problems. After some time most of them get engaged in the learning community.
What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.
Brainly is completely free to use. Thanks to the investment we raised, we are able to focus on building a perfect product for students around the world and build a team of people who are passionate about education and technology.
Building such a huge user base of dozens of millions of students gives us the great opportunity for an effective business model in the future, once we get there we may introduce monetization. It’s important to us however, that students can always visit Brainly for free.
If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.
Brainly recently announced $9 in A round funding led by General Catalyst. Previous and new investors also participated in the round, including Berlin-based Point Nine and Runa Capital.
Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.
One of our biggest successes was that we managed to double the size of our user base over the course of 2014. We started the year with 20 million monthly unique users and finished with over 40 million.
What are the next steps in growing your startup.
We are now working on enlarging our team by working with great new people who help us work on the product. Our goal is to develop the NYC office by adding more team members. A big goal is to increase the size of the user base and gain brand awareness globally.
Anything else you would like to add.
Brainly announced an increased focus on mobile for its peer-to-peer homework help platform by overhauling its mobile apps to create a more seamless user experience. The new native app for the world’s largest social learning network with more than 13.5 million registered users, is immediately available on iOS and Android devices globally. To date, there have been more than 4 million downloads of the Brainly app worldwide helping to expand the reach of the organically grown educational community.