Q&A: Michal Borkowski -- CEO, Brainly

After a $9 million Series A funding round, Brainly, the world's largest social learning network, is expanding to the US. With their new office in New York city and a US-based executive team, Brainly plans to dominate the market the same way it has in other countries. I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Michal Borkowski, CEO of Brainly, about his plans for the company and the progress so far.

What is Brainly and why'd you start it?
Brainly is a peer-to-peer social learning network. We provide students with a simple and fast way to get help on their homework and learn how to solve problems across all common subjects of study.

Students often have questions and doubts in different subjects areas and lack the access to someone who can answer those questions. At Brainly, we're building a huge community of students working to help one another. Simpy put, it's an opportunity to ask questions and have them answered.

"During my high school, I realized how unequal access to education is...It is based on your parent's socioeconomic status; it's not about following your passion."

How does Brainly work?
Anyone can come to Brainly and search for questions and answers. Much like students learn by reading through similar problems out of a textbook, millions of students come to Brainly to do the same. After creating an account, students can post a homework question. Then, other students who are logged in answer the questions. Students earn points by answering and spend points by asking, and if a student is concerned about an answer, they can flag it for one of our 700 volunteer moderators to review.

Give me some numbers.
More than 40 million people per month come to Brainly to learn how to solve problems across nearly every school subject, including various levels of math, English, history, geography, health, and business. Today, more than 8,000 questions are asked per hour on Brainly. At scale, we believe at least 80% of questions will be answered by the community within 10 minutes. We are already seeing this is some of our more developed markets. In fact, after posting their first question, there is a 44% chance a student will start answering other questions. An interesting observation we've made is that, across countries, mathematics is the dominant subject.

What's Brainly's international presence now? What's the goal? How does this relate with revenue?
We started in Poland, and now we're international: Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Phillipines, US...it's a pretty long-list. Initially, we chose Russia for it's communal educational culture--then started to scale internationally. After great success expanding Brainly into 35 countries, representing 12 languages, today we are focused on growing our US operations and reinventing the next generation of our product.

Right now, we've entered the US with 850,000 monthly users; the goal is to have 30 to 40 million. Our expansion relies on the network effect: the bigger the knowledge base gets, the more users join in. The next untapped market we're looking at is China.

Our revenue is strictly from simple ads right now. We're more focused on growing our user base. For instance, in Poland--where we launched--we own 80% of the market. Like any social network, it's about dominating the market of users. The focus is on building a huge community of students working collaboratively.