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How Three Classmates Hatched a Hi-Tech Approach to Learning

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This story appears in the November 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in political science, Josh Silverman spent time in Korea and Spain teaching English and IT. The newly minted teacher quickly noticed a problem with students' retention rates: Not only were his own students forgetting material they'd learned just days earlier, but he was struggling to hold on to knowledge he'd worked so hard to retain during his undergraduate studies.

After enrolling in a master's program in computer science at Brandeis University, Silverman and classmates Bill DeRusha and Jason Urton sought to turn this frustration into a business plan that would benefit students. In April 2011, the three launched a beta service that was primarily a platform for taking notes. They attracted approximately 1,200 sign-ups in a matter of weeks, but only a small fraction of those who joined became active users.

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