Getting students to revise for tests and exams can be a challenge at the best of times, but when George Burgess, founder of London-based Gojimo wanted to revise for his geography GCSE using his phone, he found the options a bit lacking.
Being a resourceful and driven student he decided he could probably do better himself, despite not having any coding skills, so set to work finding a freelance developer and enrolling a teacher from his school to help create some content. A couple of months later, his GCSE geography revision app hit the App Store.
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“Mobile apps were taking off at the time and I was looking at the space and realized there was very little there for students,” Burgess explained, adding that having no coding skills brings a fresh perspective to the business, but conceding it has made things trickier at times.
With the GCSE app proving popular with fellow students in the UK, he then replicated the process and created similar apps for different subjects which all did “fairly well”. All were chargeable “at around £2”, Burgess said.
As a result of his early endeavours beginning to pay off, he decided to put Gojimo before the next steps in his own education.
I started paying a lot more attention and time to the business and took a gap year before starting university, during which I raised a small amount of money from friends and family and hired our first full-time iOS developer here in London.
That’s when things got a bit more formal and then we started to work with a lot of major publishers. We did our first deal with BBC Active, a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Pearson, to produce the BBC Bitesize apps, those were quite successful because it’s quite a recognized brand in terms of publishers and learning for students.
This process started when Burgess was just 17. Now he’s 21 and with several successful publishing deals under its belt, Gojimo is today launching its learning platform of the same name.
Consequently, in addition to launching Gojimo’s all new one-stop-shop for revision guides and education materials, the company is also announcing the close of a $1 million seed round led by Index Ventures which also attracted cash from JamJar Investments, the consumer investment fund set up by the Innocent Drinks Trio Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright.
Rather than using the standalone premium model as seen in previous apps, Gojimo’s new platform is a free download with optional in-app purchases that can be filtered by subject or qualification. It also offers a more general, global catalog search tool.
Clearly riding the wave of early successes, Gojimo’s new platform enters a market that’s much more crowded and competitive than it was when Burgess built his first app four years ago, so what makes him think it will continue to resonate with users?
What’s interesting about the market now is that there are a lot of apps out there which compete with us but they tend to be quite crummy – a lot of teachers who have taught themselves to code who have thrown up a really basic app or something like that, but there are very few people investing serious money and attention in the space, and that’s obviously what we’re trying to do. If you look at what a lot of the big brand names and big publishers are doing, they actually haven’t invested a huge amount in mobile yet, so we’re trying to plug that gap for them and work with them.
Gojimo also has the advantage of offering content geared for US and UK qualifications and exams, which not all can boast.
Today might only be day one for the new Gojimo platform, but the company is already planning ahead for ways to stay relevant and increase engagement even further.
Two of the main things we’re looking at right now are how can we involve teachers in schools, and we’re looking, in March, to release functionality to let teachers track students progress through the app.
On another side of things we’re looking at how we can gamify it and make it slightly more engaging for students. We have to be honest, when it comes to exam revision it’s never going to be completely fun, but there are things we can do to make it slightly more appealing.
Some of the ways the company is looking at making the process more engaging is by, in around April, updating the app to offer student leader boards and allowing them to test each other with quiz questions.
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