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Start Your Business Success Stories

Extra Help: Education Tech Entrepreneur Relies on Collaboration Tools

Extra Help: Education Tech Entrepreneur Relies on Collaboration Tools
Flashnotes.com is a peer-to-peer marketplace where college students can sell study materials to other students. / Credit: Flashnotes.com

Name: Michael Matousek
Business name: Flashnotes
Years in business: 4
Website address: http://www.flashnotes.com

Michael Matousek was still an undergraduate at Kent State University when he launched Flashnotes, a site where students in need of extra help outside the classroom could find and purchase study materials prepared by other students. But in founding his peer-to-peer marketplace, Matousek was doing more than following his own entrepreneurial dreams. He was enabling his fellow college students to follow theirs, too.

"On Flashnotes, the students who are top-sellers across the country are making up to $12,000 by monetizing their study materials and by providing study help to their peers," he told Business News Daily. "I have no doubt they will be the next generation of entrepreneurs."


Michael Matousek, CEO of Flashnotes.com, founded his company as a college student in 2010. Credit: Flashnotes.com

As a Web-based company, Flashnotes takes advantage of numerous collaboration technologies to enable its members to buy and sell study guides, notes, flashcards and video study sessions. Matousek discussed the tech tools that help keep his business running, and his vision for its future. [7 Overlooked Tech Resources for Entrepreneurs]


Business News Daily: What problem were you hoping to solve when you started your business?

Michael Matousek: During my time at Kent State University, I saw students walking out of lectures who were on two different ends of the spectrum — those who breezed through the material, and those who were clearly lost or confused by their professor's teaching style. I realized there was an opportunity to connect the students who had an easier time digesting the material with those who needed further assistance outside the classroom. With Flashnotes.com, I've created a student-to-student study materials marketplace that gives college students two things they need most: more money and better grades.

BND: What technologies have most helped your business?

M.M.: Without Google Drive, Flashnotes would be at a complete loss. As a startup, we're moving at such a fast pace that it's critical that our entire team stays on the same page — sometimes literally. Being able to create one GoogleDoc that we can share with whoever we want, whenever we want has been a great benefit to being able to move at such a quick pace.

WebRTC, which allows us to add video to the Flashnotes platform, has also been a game changer for us.  For students who have follow-up questions or study best through interaction, WebRTC gives them the ability to easily connect with classmates. Instead of downloading a widget, this technology gives students the convenience of easily connecting through right through Flashnotes.com on their Web browser.

BND: If you could hire one extra person right now, what would you have them do?

M.M.: I'm going to cheat a little bit here and change this to one person — on every campus. Flashnotes recently hired campus chief operating officers at each of our major campuses to help spread the word and scale the business. No one knows a college campus like a student who goes there, and the ones we've hired so far are amazing. They're entrepreneurial, well connected, enigmatic students that are really helping us to grow this business at a rapid pace. If we could get a Flashnotes COO at every single college campus around the country, we'd be golden!

BND: What technology do you wish existed that doesn't?

M.M.: I often find it difficult to get all my ideas onto paper at once, or even remember them with all the moving parts of running a startup. If there were a technology that could automatically keep track of my thoughts, ideas, and future ambitions, the amount of creativity and success would be limitless.

BND: What app are you relying on most right now?

M.M.: At the moment, I am a big fan of the Uber app. With so many notable universities and colleges in the Boston area, Uber is a convenient and cost-effective way for me to get to and from meetings on time. (I was notoriously late before Uber came around!)

BND: What's the most valuable non-tech skill an entrepreneur needs?

M.M.: Problem solving. As an entrepreneur, you need to have the ability to think on your feet and improvise to solve anything thrown your way — a situation that will happen more than you'd like.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the managing editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.

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