Would you like to combine a slick, personalized mobile test prep app with access to individual tutoring? Stick around!
Meet Elad Shoushan, a former pro-basketball player in Israel who attended the Technion, Israel’s MIT, got into coding big time, and worked for GE Healthcare. Just before starting at MIT Sloan he founded a little start-up that this year raised over $5 million in Series A funding and whose apps have been downloaded over half a million times. That’s what he’s here to talk about today. Welcome, Elad!
How did he get into test prep? [1:55]
He’d always wanted to study in the US – even during his basketball career, he dreamed of coming to the US to study and play division I ball. When he was working at GE Healthcare, pursuing his MBA seemed like a natural next step.
He struggled with the GMAT, and took it a few times. While he was studying, he thought that the process didn’t make a lot of sense – and he wanted a convenient way to study on the go. He thought an app would be helpful, and so he set out to create one.
Going through the test prep process helped him learn a lot about how the brain learns and how standardized tests work. [4:25]
As the company has developed, they’ve worked on studying learning methodologies. And they’re getting great feedback from users.
What was his career plan when he applied to MIT? [6:10]
He wanted to be an entrepreneur. In fact, he’d already spent a couple of months developing/coding the first version of the app (for GMAT prep), and had already left his job at GE. So he’d already launched the business by the time he started at Sloan. His courses at Sloan helped him develop the start-up.
He pursued the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Certificate at MIT Sloan [9:25]
What distinguishes his apps from other test prep options? [10:30]
The goal is to provide a full educational experience all the way to school, with the focus on being a great mobile learning experience. Other test prep companies basically plug in existing content into an app. His company focuses on the user experience – developing the experience and the content specifically for mobile. They consider what the user needs to learn, where s/he is, when s/he is using the app, to maximize learning in small bites.
Is the focus on content or strategy? [13:55]
Both. The goal is to identify what the applicant needs to focus on. It’s a comprehensive course: each app has over 1000 questions. For the MCAT course, they’ve partnered with the Princeton Review for content; for the other apps, they’ve developed their own content.
The original name is LTG (Label the GMAT)—what does that refer to? [15:40]
This goes back to the beginnings of the company, and the idea that solving questions requires two steps – identifying the type of question and knowing the content. The app parses the text so the learner can easily identify the concepts being tested. Now this feature is called “x-ray”—it allows the applicant to see the keywords in the question and quickly understand how the question is structured. It’s a way to grasp the underlying logic of the exam questions.
Where does tutoring fit in? [18:35]
Tech can help a lot, but it can’t solve everything. Some people will benefit from an explanation from a human being. A tutor can help take you to the next level if you need it, and can enhance your experience from the app.
They provide introductions to a curated network of tutors. It is up to the user to decide if tutoring is necessary.
How does someone become a tutor? [21:00]
MCAT tutors come via the Princeton Review. For the other exams, the tutors must have at least 3-4 years of experience and a test score above the 96th percentile. They also interview prospective tutors.
Given that the apps are free, how do they plan to monetize the company? [22:00]
They have supportive investors. They’re also looking to develop their brand name, and generate income by making referrals to universities. (They are building a database algorithm that will provide students with school information and match students with universities.)
What exams do they provide apps for? [24:00]
There are apps for the GMAT, GRE, MCAT, SAT, ACT, and PSAT. No LSAT yet, but it’s coming.
They’re all available in both the iOS and Android app stores. Search the name of the app or the name of the exam.
What was the most challenging part of the MBA application process for him? [26:00]
The research. It’ s so important to know what you want and why the school is best for you.
It’s a serious process, and it’s so important to take it seriously.
Speaking with alumni was helpful. Visiting and talking to people also helped. It’s a time consuming process, but important.
Is he happy he did the MBA? [30:40]
Yes! He gained the business skills he needed. Coming from tech, he’s heard the arguments about how “only coders count,” etc. But today he understands that business skills are crucial for the success of a company. Technology is nothing if you can’t make a business out of it: you need to solve a problem.
Now he feels he has a business mindset. The skills he gained in b-school are helpful for team management and working with investors and customers.
The MIT brand is a door opener, and the network is definitely helpful. But you have to work hard. It’s what you make out of it. [36:30]
What does he miss about b-school? [38:30]
The people: both friends and classmates. You learn a lot from classmates who have different backgrounds.
Advice for test takers and applicants [42:35]
The average number of times people are taking the GMAT is going up. Retaking can show perseverance.
For applicants: schools can see who’s serious about the school and who’s not, so put in the time to make a serious application. Listen carefully to what the adcom is looking for. Read between the lines to see what the school is looking for – make sure you want to go there, and show you’re a good fit.
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