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EQNS : Advanced Education In The Sciences

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We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Ilya Uts”, CEO & Founder of the New York – USA based start-up “EQNS”

Below is the interview we conducted with him:

1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?

EQNS is a NYC based company that strives to advance education in the sciences by providing the academic community with the ability to quickly navigate through a large expanse of equations to easily find the correct equation, at the proper level.

2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?

EQNS begun being built in late 2013, with an official launch in September of 2014. EQNS is still in it’s infancy stage, but gaining more traction with each passing week.

3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work

EQNS is an educational resource that strives to make equations more accessible to students at every level of education. EQNS is currently free, but we hope to release a premium version of the website by the end of 2015.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

High school friends, Ilya and Ronen have known each other for over nine years. Ilya focuses on the technical aspects of the company, while Ronen focuses on marketing and retaining users.

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make? 

There is no other website on the web that provides students and educators from various levels with the exact equation they are looking for. Wikipedia tends to provide equations that, while correct, are too abstract for the average high school and college student. While other educational resources only provide a small subset of pertinent equations. Furthermore, EQNS is extremely easy to navigate.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?

We measure our growth in number of equation webpages that we host as well as the number of users that visit us. In January of this year our viewership soared to new heights, peaking at 300 visitors per day. Additionally, we are extremely happy to host over 30 distinct webpages full of equations.

7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?

We currently do not have any competitors.

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

A year in the works, EQNS has been both a technical and financial challenge. We have decided to incur financial costs in an attempt to provide our end users with the most comprehensive and user friendly website we could make. Despite it taking a year, we learned enough HTML, CSS, and Javascript to launch EQNS in September of last year.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

There really aren’t any. What we are doing is pretty straightforward, it just hasn’t been done before. If there’s something unclear on the website, we added links to external resources that give further explanations.

10. Why are you going to succeed?

Because science is always going to be taught and eventually people will realize that they can absorb a lot more information by using EQNS. We also have a great team that believe in the product.

11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

We hope to begin promoting science education further and more directly. It’s very important that our high school and college graduates are scientifically literate individuals.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?

As a science major, I struggled with problems sets for many years and could not understand why this resource didn’t already exist. EQNS is an attempt to help everyone else who is currently occupying the same role I was in, while in high school and college.

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

Running a business is very tough and people don’t always rush towards the best ideas. In addition to having a good product, it’s also very important to advertise it effectively – that’s where we’re currently at.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

Hopefully we will no longer struggle with drawing traffic to our website and instead be more focused on the long term stability of our infrastructure.

15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?

EQNS saves students hours off their homework and makes learning science a pleasant experience, which is very important in this day and age of scientific illiteracy.

16. How did customers / users find out about you?

They Google search something relating to scientific equations and were directed to our website. We also began advertising through fliers although do not expect to have drawn much traffic from it.

17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?

High school students and faculty, college students and faculty, and science lovers everywhere. Additionally, tutors and professionals who deal in math and the sciences.

18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you? 

Typically new customers come through Google searches and through social media outlets. We hope to draw users through word of mouth as well, although understand that our product is more a helpful guide than a sleek product, and as such might have difficulty being spread by the word of mouth.

19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?

Students and faculty alike have given us loads of praise over the ease of navigation and the comprehensiveness of EQNS. Positive comments and suggestions have flooded our comment boxes and we hope to receive more in the future.

20. How are you going to scale?

We are just going to continue doing what we have been for the past year and hopefully traffic will increase exponentially. It will be important to solidify the infrastructure as we continue to grow.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?

More flashy features, which we hope to add but it’s a little tough for now with only 1 employee who is focused on the technical aspects of the website.

22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?

We hope to translate our descriptions into foreign languages as we grow. Fortunately math is an international language, so we are already mainly internationalized.

23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?

We hope to be a household name for students and educators alike. Equations play a central role in high school and college education and we  significantly simplify the process of doing homework and studying for exams by taking out the needless google searching that currently goes hand in hand with science homework.

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

Not for now, although that is definitely an eventual goal. Eventually we will be looking for a marketing, SEO, front end, and back end team to solidify our product, make it more robust, and secure it’s existence in the future.

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?

We would definitely be interested in that in the long run, but would like to draw up traffic first. We also hope to partner with larger educational
firms in the future.

26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

It’s all about dedication and persistence. You can do it, just keep on working on it! The most important thing to remember is the reason behind making your company. If you’re passionate about it, you’ll make it work.

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