Education / Startups

Meet PrepFactory, a startup aiming to level the test-prep playing field

Free SAT test prep? Sign us up. The company just isn't sure how to monetize it yet.

Not your mother's test prep. (Photo by Flickr user Alberto G., used under a Creative Commons license)

The PrepFactory story begins, as many startup stories do, with a personal interaction.

CEO Darin Singh’s girlfriend (now wife) was studying for the LSAT, and very disappointed with the prep class she was taking at the time. She kept telling him how overpriced it was. And this got Singh thinking about how bizarre the standardized test prep industry is.

“To me it’s crazy that there are companies out there that keep charging for the same 10 to 15 hours of material,” he told in a recent conversation. These companies are just recycling the content, and making money on it every time. And while this might be an effective way to get money, Singh didn’t think it seemed fair. “Information and knowledge should be free,” he said.

So that’s what PrepFactory does — it’s a platform that provides SAT and ACT test prep. And it’s free.

The platform provides portals for both teachers and students, and strives to make the content engaging and accessible. “A lot of people are terrified of these tests,” Singh said. PrepFactory wants to assuage that fear in its users. For each section of the SAT and ACT, PrepFactory guides students through strategy, quizzes and practice sets.

Darin Singh. (Courtesy photo)

Darin Singh. (Courtesy photo)

Of course there’s also an economic accessibility aspect to this — traditional SAT and ACT prep courses are expensive and inaccessible to many students. But doing well is an important step in a student’s trajectory toward higher education. For students who can’t afford fancy test prep, a platform like this could make quite a difference.

Singh launched PrepFactory in October 2015. He and his team work out of 1776, and the platform has over 200,000 registered users across the U.S. Singh says the platform’s monthly active user growth is “up and to the right” and “we’re really excited about the growth we’re seeing for such a young company.”

For now, at least, the focus is on getting users onto the site. But down the road, presumably, PrepFactory will want to monetize somehow. How will that fit with the company’s “knowledge should be free” ethos?

Singh admitted that he hasn’t settled on a monetization strategy.

“We know we don’t want to be a traditional edtech company,” he said. “We think that there will be non-obvious ways to make money if we are meeting a need for our customers.” For example a freemium model, in which standard content remains free but if a student needs one-on-one help then that comes with a cost.

PrepFactory has raised $500,000 thus far in a round led by local firm Kiddar Capital. They’re looking to raise more — when we spoke with Singh he was out on the West Coast meeting with potential investors. From a product perspective this funding will go toward expansion, as Singh wants to apply his model to additional standardized tests like the LSAT, GRE and more.

A free LSAT module on PrepFactory, of course, will bring it all right back to where this journey began.

Companies: 76 Forward

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