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Monday, April 30, 2018

A physics PhD and startup founder explains how entrepreneurs can get the most basic business advice all wrong | Strategy - Business Inside

  • Happy Numbers is an artificial intelligence-enabled math education platform.
  • CEO Evgeny Milyutin said the biggest lesson he's learned in his time in startups is the importance of knowing your customer.
  • This is pretty common business advice — but he's probably not the only founder who initially went about following it all wrong.
  • It took him a while to realize that meant visiting the classrooms where students and teachers would be using his product, talking to them, and watching them use it.

Photo: Shana Lebowitz
Shana Lebowitz, strategy reporter for Business Insider summarizes "When the iPad debuted in 2010, Evgeny Milyutin was a 26-year-old physics PhD student in France." 

It was tough going at first. Evgeny Milyutin, right, and Ivan Kolomoets are the founders of Happy Numbers.
Photo: Courtesy of Evgeny Milyutin

On the side, he and his longtime friend Ivan Kolomoets had been tutoring their friends' kids in math. It occurred to them then that there was a prime opportunity to improve the quality of math education with emerging digital technologies.

At the time, this was a truly novel idea: It was still seven years before Netflix CEO Reed Hastings would invest in a math education startup called DreamBox Learning.

Today, Milyutin and Kolomoets are the founders of Happy Numbers, an artificial intelligence-enabled math education platform. The goal is to help teachers personalize education: Milyutin described the program as a "virtual teaching assistant."

Students are set up with iPads or laptops and plug away at interactive math exercises; then the 
program delivers feedback to the teacher based on the students' performance.

Milyutin — who confesses that he struggled with math in primary school — cited a 1984 review by the late Benjamin Bloom, which reports that students who received one-on-one tutoring performed better than 98% of students taught in a conventional classroom.

"It would be great to have one teacher for every student, but it's not always realistic," Milyutin said. "So this is where I feel technology can come into the game."

Individual schools or school districts can purchase subscriptions to Happy Numbers (though Milyutin said he's also sold a few subscriptions directly to consumers). In the last year, Milyutin said, there have been 17 million exercises solved on Happy Numbers. 
Read more... 

Source: Business Insider