Q&A with Michał Borkowski, CEO of Brainly
There are edtech startups all over the world, and Brainly is one of them, based in Poland. We had the chance to speak with Michał Borkowski, CEO of Brainly, the company that develops and provides a social learning network platform, enabling students to collaborate and exchange their learning experience and skills.
Company at Glance:
Founders: Tomasz Kraus (CTO), Michał Borkowski (CEO), Łukasz Haluch
Category: Education Technology
Facebook: Brainly on Facebook
LinkedIn: Brainly on LinkedIn
Twitter: Brainly on Twitter
ETT: How would you define the space your company works in?
MB: Brainly.com is a social learning network, which operates in the education sector. We are a student driven platform for homework help. We build a highly collaborative community, in which students exchange knowledge and skills. This gives them the possibility of solving their school problems with their peers online.
ETT: Why did you start a company, or build a product, in this space? What need or gap do you aim to address?
MB: The idea was to transfer all the benefits of the real life collaboration between students into an online space. At the same time, we wanted to use the possibilities that new technologies give in order to provide students with tools that are unavailable offline. We saw that in many cases students have problems caused by things which are beyond their control. Brainly gives equal chances to all, no matter where they are from, what language they speak, or whether they like their teachers or not. This is why our idea is so universal and gets to users all over the world.
ETT: What were the reasons for your launching first in Europe and only then coming to the US, given that your product is web-based and could be launched globally?
MB: One of the main reasons for that was our better knowledge of the European markets. After the successful performance in Poland, we have reached out to the markets which were close, like Russia. Only after gaining some experience, we decided to expand to more and more distant markets. Another, more mundane reason, was the funding. We are quite aware of the fact that launching in the US, Japan or Indonesia requires more financial resources. We wanted to make sure that we were ready and well prepared for such an important move.
ETT: Why will your product/service work? What makes your approach to this issue different from what others are doing?
MB: The main advantage is our speed. Users get reliable answers to their questions very quickly (even in less than 10 minutes). All that thanks to our active communities. We also care a lot about the quality of the content. It’s not just a Q&A website. Our users appreciate how all the questions and answers are being moderated and our experienced members make sure that all the information is legit. We have over 300 volunteer moderators (students, teachers, parents, professors, PhDs and others) worldwide.
ETT: Who are your core customers, and who are your users?
MB: Our core users are middle school and high school students. The biggest group is 13 – 18 years old. Still, Brainly attracts many more such as elementary students, parents, teachers and other education enthusiasts. Our communities are very diverse, but this only enhances it and enables knowledge sharing between many different people, who would probably find it hard to connect offline.
ETT: Could you tell us about other startups or product builds that you have been a part of and what your role was?
MB: Currently, we’re sticking to Brainly. Previously I founded several educational and Q&A platforms. It gave me a lot of experience, but at the moment, Brainly is the priority.
ETT: Please tell us more about your product stage and what we should expect to see from your company in the next 12 months – i.e. describe your next milestones.
MB: Right now Brainly is the biggest group of educational platforms for homework help in the world. We bring together over 22 million unique visitors monthly. In the upcoming two years we expect to see a several fold growth of our user base. For now, our main goal is to successfully launch on our 13 new markets and gain the global presence.
ETT: Where do you see the education technology market going in the next few years?
MB: We concentrate on K-12 education and I think we can speak about 2 trends here:
– School/class management platforms, which will enhance the organisation of education in schools.
– Knowledge sharing between all students thanks to new technologies, such as Brainly.
I believe that there’s no doubt that the internet and new technologies will reshape the education. We are excited to be the part of this process and to provide students around the world with access to the platforms from Brainly group.
ETT: What keeps you up at night?
MB: Sometimes I spend the night thinking about new ideas and opportunities. This can go on till morning. 😉
EdTech Times extends gratitude to Michał Borkowski for sharing his thoughts with our readers. We encourage you to check out Brainly at:
Yevgeny Ioffe, or as people call him, Yev, has been working in both the startup world and established companies. His career spans from joining Xplana Learning as it launched to Cengage Learning to MBS Direct when it acquired Xplana in 2009. Yevgeny brings to EdTech Times his passion for start-ups and technology, along with his interest in the ever evolving world of edtech. Yevgeny obtained his BSc and MA from Brandeis University and MBA from Boston College.