Sieva Kozinsky was a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara when he came up with a business idea that could dramatically change the way fellow students access material for their classes.
The Bay Area native sat on the thought for a year until he realized no one else was going to come forward with a working solution to the lack of technology in the education world.
After another year of planning, Kozinsky and co-founder Jeff Silverman were able to launch StudySoup, an online course reader platform that allows students and educators to access articles, videos and other materials from any computer or device using the Internet.
The UCSB graduates found the idea simple: more focused classroom content and fewer unnecessarily large textbooks to lug between classes.
The online platform was initially offered in September 2012 via the UCSB Bookstore but, fueled by favorable feedback, quickly expanded to UCLA, the University of Oregon, Brown University and three other schools.
To date, more than 40 colleges and universities have signed up to use the fee-based program, which now boasts more than 8,000 student users.
“We tried to solve all the problems students were currently having,” said Kozinsky, who graduated from UCSB with an environmental studies degree in June. “Naturally, I wanted everything on my computer.”
The Santa Barbara-headquartered StudySoup strives to eliminate the frustrations of bulky course readers by allowing students and professors to annotate and highlight synced content in real-time online while also saving money that would have been spent on textbooks.
The name includes “soup” because the dish is considered a comfort food, Kozinsky said, which is exactly what the platform plans for — registered users choosing the most comfortable materials and tools to work with.
Kozinsky said he has been traveling the country making sales and pitches to investors and gathering up steam for the next phase, a key cornerstone of which will be creating a “discovery marketplace for course content.”
The education marketplace will allow users to log onto the platform and create content for their classes or pull from what others are doing.
“Everything is drifting toward custom digital,” Kozinsky said.
He said that StudySoup will soon begin partnering directly with publishers, licensing to more university bookstores and adding an analytics feature so educators can see exactly how students are interacting with content.
The co-founder said StudySoup hopes to soon nearly double its number of employees — five currently —and to reach more than 100 schools by March.