Jermaine Hagan, a serial entrepreneur and his cousin, Dennis Owusu-Sem, a former asset management and investment banker are looking to disrupt the education sector with Revision App.
I caught up with both entrepreneurs as we spoke about their new startup, App Giant, the creator of Revision App, one of UK's leading education apps.
Hi Guys, great to have you both on YHP?
Jermaine: Thank you, I’ve been a long-time reader so it’s great for us & Revision App to be featured.
Dennis: It’s a pleasure for you to interview us.
Could you quickly give us some background information about yourself?
Jermaine: I’m a serial web based start-up guy. A few years ago I started BHF Clothing which I brought in front of millions of eyes via our Youtube Channel, MTV, Channel 4 product placement. I then moved to develop a few online platforms including an online estate agency (Expensive Homes), AfroBeat Central & UK American Football Forum. Now my main focus is Revision App.
Dennis: I have had experience working in asset management and investment banking. While at university I was president of a society and have a strong desire to make a positive impact in the education sector.
So how did you both initially get into business?
Jermaine: It’s a bit cheesy but my parents always taught me to work hard and take the necessary risks to get what and where you want. From an early age I started selling things to my friends, which later evolved into an eBay business which helped me buy my first car.
Dennis: I have always wanted to do more than the required 9-5 job and constantly challenge myself whether it be in business, education or personal time. With the creation of Revision App I saw this as the perfect opportunity to take an idea and transform it into a tangible product.
Who were your inspirations growing and why?
Dennis: It’s tough to mention one particular person who inspires me as I believe you can learn from everyone around you but I would definitely say my parents have been a source of inspiration always telling me to put my best into things I do in order to have no regrets when I am older.
How did you meet each other?
Jermaine: Dennis & I are cousins, we grew up together and had a similar ambition to not press =SUM…. On spreadsheets
Dennis: (Laughing) Adding on to that it gives the team a nice balance having a different perspective at times in order to come to the best decisions.
When and why did you decide to work together?
Jermaine: I had the vision for Revision App in my final year of university, once I had begun transforming Revision App from an idea to reality I contacted Dennis and told him that I want him along for the ride.
Dennis: Once I heard the idea I was sold and thought that this was an opportunity not to be passed up. So far I am happy with the progress made but we both know it can go further. I knew J had the creativity develop the app further and I was willing to take this even further with my own experience and expertise.
So tell me about Revision app and how the idea come about?
Jermaine: Revision App is one of the leading UK education apps. It brings together educational content across all major levels (GCSE, A-Level & University) and puts them at the touch of your finger. As past students we remember the size of our school bags in Year 7 and the amount of notes you gather as a university student. We understood there must be a better way to carry all your revision notes about! My iPad with Revision App on it is about 10 times lighter than my Corporate Finance book!
What is Revision app and how does it work?
Revision App is currently available on all iOS devices (iPhone, iPad & iPod). It is a flashcard based learning platform and provides you with questions for you to answer and track your score. Revision App comes with over 13,000 in-built revision notes and access to a database of 5 million revision notes covering most subjects you could dream of!
Did you guys have any difficulties during the startup phase, tell me about it?
Jermaine: As with any start-up we experienced quite a few difficulties, from working with outsourced contractors to ensuring the quality of the content within Revision App. If we could change anything…. I would got back 5 years and do my degree in mobile app development.
How did you initially get traction for the app?
We built a strong foundation for the app including a website, YouTube video, Twitter and Facebook pages. This allowed people to easily find the app.
As co-founders we also made the choice to use the name Revision App, and allow people to automatically associate Revision App with revision and educational studies. This really helped and saved a lot of marketing £’s.
What is your business model?
At this point in our business lifecycle we do not feel students should be charged to use Revision App. We offer advertising within our app to allow us to operate the business and keep giving users Revision App for free.
What makes Revision app different from any service out there?
From the start we wanted Revision App to be different. We created a unique user interface which people love or sometimes hate, yet it ensures you remember Revision App.
The concept behind Revision App is to aggregate educational content into one mobile app, allowing you to keep using the app from your first year at secondary school to your university graduation.
You will not find many popular education apps that are similar to Revision App; we aim to keep evolving to ensure this stays true.
How many downloaded does it have so far?
Revision App has over 100,000 users and has delivered over 300,000 revision sessions in the past 5 months. These are figures we are proud of!
Is the business profitable?
The business is not profitable as yet, with the major developments we have in the pipeline we do not intend on being profitable for the next few months.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
We have reached out to a lot of people to get Revision App off the ground. From potential users to internet blogs, we have emailed, tweeted and poked them all!
Would you say the business has changed from the first initial idea?
Revision App changed from being a lifestyle business intended to cover the cost of our increasing petrol bills to potentially becoming a major educational player. We have a couple of new changes in the pipeline to increase our user engagement and truly disrupt mobile education.
How have you been able to fund the business?
At present the business has been bootstrapped and funded by our existing mobile app development business, friends and family. We have reached the stage where an additional investment is needed to fund our future growth, so we are actively looking for investors.
What has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Reaching #1 in the UK education charts and staying there for 21 days has been the most memorable highlight for us! We managed to beat of some of the major educational publishers and US businesses to the top spot.
What can we be expecting from you in 2012?
We can’t say too much at the moment but expect to see Revision App or a Revision App product at the top of the overall iPhone charts; we want to become the first education app to hit the top 10 of the overall app charts.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Jermaine: “Foundation before bricks!” Build a solid foundation for your business that you can later build upon.
Dennis: Have faith in your ability to deliver, be dedicated to your cause and enjoy the process because the journey is just as fun as the end destination.