Tech City: Bumper year for Gojimo revision app
- Credit: roundturnerphotography.com
Tech City is the third-largest technology hub in the world, and it’s right on our doorstep. Each week, we bring you news from the thriving area around Old Street roundabout. This week, reporter Sophie Inge talks to George Burgess, the co-founder of the education app Gojimo
Back in 2009, 17-year-old George Burgess was daunted by the prospect of revising for his A-level exams. Unable to find any interactive learning tools, he decided to develop some apps for bored students like himself.
Using money he’d made from selling items on eBay, the intrepid schoolboy hired some teachers and a developer abroad to help him create several education apps designed around various courses.
“At one point, we had over 100 different apps in the App Store,” says George. “It was then that we realised we needed to aggregate everything.”
His work was interrupted when he won a place at Stanford University in California. But he dropped out after just 18 months to focus on creating a new educational app – Gojimo, which derives its name from the Goji berry and the mobile phone.
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It consists of more than 180,000 quiz questions which students scan use to test their knowledge of a subject. They can also track their learning, by marking each topic within the curriculum as Learnt once they’ve completed it.
Using the app is simple, says George.
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“Students select their qualification and subjects, then their exam board if necessary,” he explains. “The app will download all the quiz questions we have available for this (typically around 500 for each subject).
“A student can then use these quizzes offline (in case they’re on the Tube) and can take either a Random Quiz or select a specific topic on which to focus. They can track their progress across each topic within a curriculum and check off each one as they complete it.”
Of course, education apps are nothing new, but George is convinced that Gojimo has the edge.
“We cover more subjects than most other apps (which tend to focus on a single subject) and have a lot more content,” he says.
“Our app is also a lot more professional and easier to use than most others on the market. We’re by far the most popular in the UK, used by one in five GCSE and A-level students.”
Now, at the age of just 23, George is the boss of a company of 10 in a co-working space in Hackney.
“Our office is actually in Edspace, a designated area within Hackney Community College for education companies,” he says. “It’s great to be so close to our target market.”
Despite being younger than most of his employees, he says the age gap has never been an issue for him.
“I think they probably find it weirder,” he says. “The only time it hits home that they’re older is when we talk about their children.”
In December, the company announced it had closed an additional $1.8m investment from a mixture of private investors and crowdfunding.
The round included participation from Robin and Saul Klein; US edtech angel investor, Deborah Quazzo of GSV Advisors; and Firestartr, a seed-stage investment platform.
The remaining funds were raised via a crowdfunding round on the CrowdBnk platform.
They join Index Ventures and JamJar Investments, who invested in the previous round.
These investments bring to an end a bumper year for the company.
In May alone, Gojimo was used by a whopping 300,000 UK students, with more than 20 per cent of all GCSE and A-level students using it for some or all of their exam revision.
Between April and June – a key revision period for students in the UK – Gojimo spent 71 consecutive days in the Top 10 education chart on the App Store and Google Play.
“We are amazed by the reception Gojimo has had from British students,” says George.
“Its success proves that students are looking for modern methods of exam preparation that complement or replace their physical books and practice papers.”
To top it all, George was also this year awarded two prestigious awards – Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2015, and Digital Achiever of the Year.
George says the team now plans to focus on increasing subject coverage.
“We currently cover 18 of the most popular GCSE subjects and 10 of the most popular A-level subjects, but we want to add more! We’re also constantly updating the app with improvements and new features.”
Would he go back to Stanford to complete his degree?
“I don’t think so!”