Beta Byte is a series underwritten by Bust Out Solutions for that early stage tech found somewhere between idea and traction.
What is the name of the company and/or product? Where is it found online?
What distinct problem does this solve?
Test prep options for professional licensure tests are too expensive and inflexible. There are many more licensed professions, but students increasingly lack resources to purchase test prep.
Esqyr delivers online study tools for licensure/credential exams, providing real, previously-tested materials at anywhere from $500 to $3000 less than our competition. As opposed to the bundled study packages provided by our competitors, our tools are provided a la carte — we provide the core of a study plan, and provide students several affordable partner resources (tutoring, flashcards, etc.).
How did you come up with the idea / what was your motivation for starting?
I graduated law school with well over $200K in debt from tuition alone, to which I had to add several thousands more for test prep. And that test prep didn’t provide the resources I actually needed. I did some digging around and found that the organization that designs the bar exam licenses their materials at a reasonable price. I realized that with a bit of help from my partners, I could create a superior (and less expensive) option. In addition, with student debt skyrocketing, I realized the clear market opportunity for the increasing number of other licensed professions.
What is the full launch/release date planned?
We launched in beta August 2 to begin collecting feedback on our product and making final optimizations. Our date for full launch is March, 2016.
Who is on the team?
What is the specific technology or combination of technologies is used?
We use WordPress for our marketing website. The Esqyr web application uses virtualized Linux machines provided by Digital Ocean and on the back end we run a Python app server which is based on the Flask framework. We also use SQLAlchemy speaking to a PostgreSQL db. The app server is managed by uWSGI and reverse proxied using nginx. The front end is written in TypeScript and makes use of Angular JS and D3, among many other libraries. Our build, release, and deployment (I.e., DevOps) infrastructure is all built on Ansible and make.
What is the size/scope of your market and how will you scale?
In 2015, there were around 40,000 law school graduates As mentioned, students have less money to afford the usual $4,000 bar prep package and want choice. We hope to serve them and grow in sales to students.
Moreover, law schools face emerging and serious issues with falling bar passage rates and greater scrutiny from regulatory bodies. They should seek a “base line” product for their students — we hope to be that product.
In addition, an increasing number of professions require a license or credential — and therefore a licensure exam. We will expand to serve the next underserved market.
Who is the customer and what is your revenue model?
We have two types of customers: individual students and law schools. We’re launching with tools designed for students and are expanding with a more personal, enterprise-like sales strategy for schools. For law schools, we’re donating 20% of accounts to schools to those students who face the most challenge paying their student debt (those in public interest fields, for example), as part of our public benefit corporation obligations.
What is your greatest strength?
Tenacity and resourcefulness. Esqyr was built by our small team of three while we each also balanced full time jobs. And, because we are self-funding, we had to be resourceful in finding low/no cost solutions for our business needs. This scrappiness helps us keep the prices low for the students we serve.
What is your biggest weakness?
Waiting until things are perfect. I have to force myself to stay focused on what is most important for students, and not get bogged down in in every detail. Our goal is to get this product to students quickly to help give them a better solution as quickly as we can.
What is one resource you could use that would take this to the next level?
A school to partner with in an engaged, candid way.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
As we’ve gotten to know the local edtech and tech scene, folks have offered a ton of thoughtful, helpful advice and have been absolutely wonderful. Thanks, all. If you have any questions or comments, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org