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Samyr Qureshi

CEO of Knack

Samyr Qureshi, the co-founder and CEO of Knack, is scaling up the tutoring platform to serve more students. Knack helps schools to match students who have recently completed a course successfully with students who are taking the course to get the help they need to learn the material. Both students benefit from the experience and schools find this to be an affordable way to improve student outcomes.

Q. What pain point is your company solving for?

A. Knack helps universities and colleges boost student graduation rates and career readiness by offering peer tutoring/mentoring opportunities to their high-achieving students as a supplement to existing student support services. Our platform allows universities to expand coverage of student support services, invest in student development by creating on-campus jobs for high-achievers to tutor peers, and strengthen university advancement initiatives via corporate engagement.

What gets me excited everyday is the fact that our business is social impact driven with the goal of impacting student success. We value the impact our technology has on a student’s college experience and as a marketplace there’s value for every stakeholder: the tutee (college student needing help), the tutor (the high-achieving college student), and the university (the consumer of data). This means our impact has a massive multiplier effect the more we scale. What’s also really cool is the fact that today we’re using technology to connect people offline and IRL — not many companies do this nowadays!

Q. Name the biggest challenge you faced as you’ve launched your company. How did you overcome it?

A. The biggest challenge we’ve faced as we’ve launched Knack has been bandwidth. As a marketplace business, we’re effectively selling value propositions to multiple audiences which means we’re almost building separate products for each stakeholder. This makes it tough when you’re small, capital restrained, and have limited resources. We’ve overcome this by maniacally prioritizing product/features based on customer feedback and by gauging its potential impact. We really make a concerted effort to speak with all of our customers as much as we possibly can.

Q. Give us a tactical piece of advice that you’d share with another founder just starting out.

A. Put off raising money for as long as you can and just talk to customers. Stay scrappy, talk to your buyer(s) to nail their most pressing problems, hack together a minimum viable product that solves their most pressing issues, get it in their hands ASAP, and ask for meticulous feedback. Rinse, lather, repeat to get as close as you can to product market fit. THEN, if you need to, go chase investment dollars. Raising a capital is an immense distraction and you need to de-risk your business as much as possible to secure your chances of raising a true institutional venture round. That being said, if you do the aforementioned well enough, you may not even need a ton of capital — that’s the dream !

To learn more about this exciting Tampa Bay startup, visit Embarc Collective.