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Blog post by Lindsy Gamble, LearnLaunch Staff

Amit Mathew first realized the extent of the challenges in studying for a major professional exam when his wife was preparing for her board exams. Watching her devote hours just to break up the chapters in her books and map out a study plan using colored pencils, he knew there must be a better way. All that time devising a strategy could and should be better spent on studying itself.

The better way arrived when the Mathews founded Cram Fighter, which develops web and mobile apps that allow students to create personalized study plans to achieve their learning goals. A student selects the resources he or she intends to use for studying and then the software creates a blueprint for preparing for the chosen exam, creating a set of small, manageable tasks that students can check off after each is accomplished. Adjustments can always be made if additional resources are added or people fall behind in the schedule.

The company’s initial focus was on helping medical students plan for high-stakes exams, which they have a good handle on. Over 20,000 students use Cram Fighter annually to prepare for exams such as the USMLE and COMLEX. The new mission is to support students throughout their entire medical school experience. Given that no two medical schools are identical and that the team wants to balance automation with a personalized user experience, this is a challenge. Eventually Cram Fighter will take their product more broadly to higher education, but not before conquering the medical-student world.

To build traction, the team maintains a tight feedback loop between users’ feedback and product development. Then they work with customers to advocate on the company’s behalf, which has been a successful formula. They have made major strides in the last year, entering into partnerships with education innovation leaders McGraw-Hill and Jones & Bartlett and accepting membership into LearnLaunch’s Breakthrough program. “We decided to join LearnLaunch because we need the mentorship and the network to achieve this lofty goal [of scaling to all disciplines],” Mathew says. “Boston is a great place to launch an edtech startup since there are colleges, entrepreneurs, investors, teachers, and students everywhere. These are key ingredients to make an edtech startup work.”

In Mathew’s humble opinion, every student should be using some sort of study planning tool to succeed academically, preferably Cram Fighter’s. As for fellow entrepreneurs looking to fulfill their own visions, his advice is to just jump in and make some mistakes. “Read about startups and about other entrepreneurs’ successes and, more importantly, their failures. Talk to lots of people, but mostly your customers. Be opinionated, since it’s your nontraditional view of the world that will make you successful.” Unlike test taking, errors in building a business can often be transformed into a good thing.