What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?
In a nutshell, MyCQs is a mobile learning platform that lets students create and practice Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) tests. On its own, this is an incredibly effective way to learn but MyCQs’ first USP is that it encourages students to share their tests with other people, thereby introducing a social element rarely seen in e-Learning platforms, despite overwhelming evidence from other sectors of how it gain drive engagement. Secondly, MyCQs tracks your progress in different areas and uses this information to intelligently generate tests tailored to your learning needs, and suggests the optimum times to practice.
What were you doing before you launched your startup?
I still am a medical student at the University of Leeds, currently taking a year out to study an MSc in Health Informatics. I recently exited my first startup, JumpIn having served as CTO for 15 months.
Where did you meet your co-founders?
I met my co-founder and friend Omair Vaiyani whilst studying Clinical Sciences at Bradford University. A lot of our exams were in the MCQ format and we found that using various online test makers was beneficial to our exams but there was nothing on the market that went as far as MyCQs.
We developed the first version in our university halls one summer and have been working on it since!
What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?
It’s been a huge learning experience, probably the biggest hindsight moment is that we should have launched with a proper business plan. We released MyCQs over a year ago, mainly as a pet project for ourselves and other people on our course. However, in one day it amassed over 13,000 downloads from users across the world: students from practically every course under the sun, special needs teachers, Boeing 787 pilots and lawyers just to name a few. In short we tapped into a market far bigger than we anticipated.
Since launch, we have been making incremental changes to MyCQs but having secured some funding we’re now working on a revolutionary re-launch. We’re re-writing the apps from scratch with a completely new business model and an ambition to turn it from a hobby project into one of the world’s leading e-learning platforms!
What will 2014 bring?
We hope this is the year we really push MyCQs out of the door. We want to make the best product we can, something that will offer real value to students throughout their time in education, and why not to professionals after that?
1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the sector?
Decide who your target audience is and engage with your target audience early in development! A product for 7 year olds looks and behaves very different to a product for 18 year olds. It sounds obvious but it’s so easy to forget and focus on making the best or easiest to use product for you, but you’re not your target audience.
Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
MyCQs lets you learn: with your friends, on the go, whilst waiting for a bus or in your room. It knows what you’re good at, what you’re bad at and when you should have another go at a test. In short MyCQs lets you work smart, not hard.
What’s your favourite startup in the sector (not including your own)?
We’re in close contact with the guys from Zzish, they have a really cool concept for an ‘Education Backend as a Service’ which we’re looking to integrate into this next version of MyCQs.
What’s your favourite London restaurant?
Honestly, I’m a northerner and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a restaurant in London! That’ll probably change as I’m looking to get involved with more TableCrowd events. I love a good steak at Gaucho, we have one of those in Leeds too!
Thanks James. We’re looking forward to seeing your progress.
If you want to see our upcoming dinners, look here.
Thanks for our sponsors for this dinner, Taylor Wessing and Propel London.