Featured Startup Pitch: Krakow-based Brainly’s social learning networks help facilitate better student collaboration

By Editor January 31, 2013

Company: Brainly.com

Website: www.brainly.com

Founders: Michał Borkowski, CEO; Łukasz Haluch, CSO and CMO; Tomasz Kraus, CTO

Headquarters: Kraków, Poland

Year Founded: 2009

Investors: Point Nine Capital, Mariusz Gralewski

Employees: 30

Twitter: @brainlygroup

Facebook: www.facebook.com/brainlygroup

Brief Company Description: Brainly.com is a group of social learning networks operating worldwide. It was created in 2009 by a group of friends, who believed that e-learning is the natural way of development of education. The portal allows its users to study, exchange experience and knowledge, and meet new people.

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Brainly logoBy Łukasz Haluch, co-founder, CSO, and CMO

Product Overview

Brainly.com was created for students, who just like us, believe that working in teams is way more effective and much more fun than studying on your own. Educational social networks are the response to the ongoing digitalization of life and the need for exchanging knowledge and experience among students. Moreover, using such portals is a great way to study and meet new people at the same time. Our group consists of Zadane.pl (Poland), Znanija.com (Russia and Ukraine), E-Aufgabe.de (Germany and Austria), Misdeberes.es (Spain and other Hispanic countries), NosDevoirs.fr (France) and Eodev.com (Turkey). Recently a Portuguese version was launched under the name Brainly.com.br and it operates in Portugal and Brazil. All together the websites reach out to over 17 countries and are visited by more than 10.5 million unique users, who have provided exhaustive answers to over two million questions.

Every registered user receives a certain number of points which can be used to ask questions about a homework problem. In order to get points you need to help other users. What is more, the best ones receive additional points for providing a clear, complete and well-explained answer. The button ‘Thank you’ makes it possible to show personal gratitude and can kick off a new friendship, which in turn can be further developed via private messages or chat. With this idea of mutual help, in the atmosphere of friendliness and collaboration, the founders want to reach out to students in countries all over the world.

Brainly's co-founders, from right: Łukasz Haluch, Michał Borkowski, and Tomasz Kraus.

Brainly’s co-founders, from right: Łukasz Haluch, Michał Borkowski, and Tomasz Kraus.

In order to encourage users to be more active and social, Brainly introduces elements of gamification, such as competitions, awards and badges, and rankings. This gives users motivation to solve tasks and help each other. The current ranking champion, 23Ania32, has solved 2,278 tasks in just half a year and was awarded the ‘Genius’ title. The users can get more social by joining groups, making new friends and talking on the chat, as well as posting on the discussion forums.

Our group of social learning networks has launched a mobile application for iOS in several languages. The new application was received with a lot of enthusiasm by users from many countries. Ever since it was published, it has already been downloaded over 22,000 times. While working on this application we wanted to enable our users to access knowledge easily. Our ambition was to create it so that it would be convenient to use not only at home, but also in a library, a study hall, or even while travelling. Additionally the application enhances the social factor of the network and encourages competition among users. Thanks to that, the user can always be up to date on what is going on in his profile and the portal.

Founders’ Story

The idea of Brainly came from the real needs of its founders. When we were back in school, we lacked some tool for direct communication and the possibility of studying in a group. The speed of development of Brainly and its success in Poland naturally gave us the motivation to spread the idea of studying in a group to other countries. It was just natural to enter other markets in order to share the concept of social learning. We would like every student in the world to be able to benefit from what studying together and knowledge sharing offers!

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

Getting to new users is very important for us. Our goal is to reach out to every student in the world with the idea of social learning. This is why apart from the traditional ways of promotion, we get involved in some unconventional actions. Two events organized by Brainly are definitely worth mentioning here. The first one is the ‘Mathematics and Logic Olympics,’ which is a nationwide competition held in cooperation with the Ministry of Education in Poland. We managed to get over 18,000 of our users to spend more than 12,000 hours on solving 25,000 sets of tasks. Another initiative is ‘Code:Girls,’which we coordinate along with Google Poland. This competition is meant to encourage girls to try their hand at programming, as well as develop in this field later on. It is aimed at middle school and high school students.

How Our Company Differentiates Itself from the Competition

What definitely singles us out from other e-learning platforms is our serious approach to our users. We are the voice of the students—we ask about what concerns them and we present their views. Our research circulates mainly around the field of education and the lifestyle of students at school and out of it. The research is prepared using the CAWI method (Computer Assisted Web Interviews). The questionnaires are displayed on our websites and are mainly filled out by our users. Later, the results are being analyzed and presented in a form of reports. This lets us learn and respond to the needs of students and continuously enhance our products. We treat our users as partners. Some of our employees also enjoy the life of the portal by solving tasks and helping students.

Business Model

Brainly is available to its users free of charge. The idea is for our website to be the meeting space for students, teachers and people involved in education, where they can help each other, exchange thoughts and simply have fun. At the moment, our priority is business scaling, and therefore we enable simple advertising on our core markets. However, we are still working on our final business model. Recently, our company succeeded in raising a $500K round of capital for developing globally from Point Nine Capital and Mariusz Gralewski. This was dedicated, among others, to entering the Portuguese and Brazilian markets, which is the latest step made by Brainly Group on its way to promoting and expanding the idea of social learning worldwide.

Current Needs

As we are growing really fast, it is only natural that Brainly is looking for new people to take on board all the time. Currently we are especially looking for IT developers, Project Managers for French, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Italian markets, and many others. The complete list of all job openings can be found here: Job offers at Brainly Group.

Brainly – www.brainly.com