MIV Catch Up - James Gupta, Synap

James Gupta, co-founder of Synap, joined us on Twitter for #MIVReveals on Wednesday 20th September 2017.

The idea for Synap started when James and his co-founder Omair Vaiyani were medical students at the University of Leeds and looking for a more effective way to study for their own exams. The pair created Synap, an innovative study tool that uses machine learning to help students learn more in less time.  Now having graduated, James and his co-founder Omair are focussing on Synap full time.

@gupta_james Hi James, thanks for joining us. Could you firstly just explain to us what it is you do? #MIVReveals

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Synap, an online education platform that helps people learn more in less time!  #MIVReveals

@gupta_james Can you tell us a little more about @synap and how it helps with #studying? #MIVReveals

@synap lets you create, practice and share Multiple Choice Quizzes (MCQs) with your friends. It’s a really simple but powerful concept that promotes active learning in short, regular bursts - whereas most studying currently is passive and in extended sessions, which we know aren’t as effective. We then gather information about your personal strengths and weaknesses and use that to suggest a few questions for you to practice each day. #MIVReveals

@gupta_james What is your #business background and what inspired you to #startup your company @synap? #MIVReveals

I’ve always been interested in technology and business, although I don’t have a formal background in it.  My co-founder @omairvaiyani and I have been in full time education for the last 6 years studying medicine and graduated as doctors a couple of months ago.  We started Synap as a way to help with our own exams and, because I had been coding for a few years before then, we decided to make it into an app.  It just ended up being far more successful than we had anticipated, to the point where we’ve now left medicine completely, taken on some full-time staff and are doing this full time! #MIVReveals

@gupta_james What have been the biggest challenges of setting up your #business @synap? #MIVReveals

Until now, it’s been juggling our degree and running the company at the same time. On one hand, they definitely complemented each other - studying medicine is what inspired us to start @synap in the first place and I firmly believe that being power-users of our own product is what made it so easy to use.  Similarly @synap helped us to pass our exams! But still, they’re both projects that would have taken as much time as we could throw at them, so making sure we were able to keep Synap not only running, but growing, whilst not failing our exams was really tough.  #MIVReveals

@gupta_james How do you #advertise your business? #MIVReveals

Mostly word of mouth and organic search. We have over 250,000 questions available on the site so a lot of people find us on Google searching for MCQs in topics such as medicine, law, finance, aviation, martial arts - everything, really.  We find that a lot of people invite their friends which is fantastic to see - last year we introduced an ambassador scheme so people can invite their friends to receive a 20% discount to any of our paid plans, and the person inviting them gets £5 too, which is a really great incentive especially for students where every £ really counts! #MIVReveals

@gupta_james What makes your business unique and differentiates you from your #competitors? #MIVReveals

The fact that Synap has literally been built ‘by students, for students’, I think has given us a product that really stands out from the competition. There’s always improvements we’re looking to make of course but it’s very easy to use and it really does work. One of the advantages of using the product every day to revise for our own exams is that, if anything was bugging us or not quite right, we could spot it instantly and switch to ‘development mode’ to fix it, then go back to studying. Most companies can’t get that kind of feedback that quickly, it gave us a phenomenally fast iteration cycle.  #MIVReveals

@gupta_james What has been the biggest achievement of your #businesscareer - anything you're particularly proud of? #MIVReveals

We’ve had a few really cool milestones that I’m proud of. This year, we got 20% of UK medical students using the platform for their exams and we’ve seen score improvements of 20% over just a 3- month period, which is great to see! #MIVReveals

@gupta_james What type of financial and #mentoring support have you received? #MIVReveals

We hit our crowdfunding target of £180,000 with @crowdcube a few years ago.  We were 3rd year students at the time and it really hit home the idea that this could be our career and not just a project. Other than that we’ve been supported by the wonderful team at @UniversityLeeds enterprise - including @calls9 and @AsadLawBlacks - who provided us with advice, funding and offices for the first few years. #MIVReveals

@gupta_james What does success look like to you? #MIVReveals

I think Synap has the potential to become the go-to platform for ‘short form studying’. It’s a really simple way to study in short bursts throughout the day, that then frees you up to do other things in the evening. Ultimately, if we help students to do that, then we’ve succeeded.  #MIVReveals

@gupta_james What does the future hold - any exciting plans we should keep an eye out for? #MIVReveals

This is going to be a very exciting year for us! It’s the first year where we’ve been able to focus on @synap full time, we’ve got two new people on the team @chalottegupta and @m_prabhakar1 who are going to be helping grow the community further.  We’re looking to work with more publishers in a huge range of disciplines over the coming year. #MIVReveals


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