Boston College students Andrew Bernstein ’17 and Luke George ’17, co-founders of the startups ClassHack and YouSit, came in 4th place at the #MITEF Beantown Throwdown last Tuesday.
The competition, hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Enterprise Forum, showcased various startups from a number of universities in the Boston area. Bernstein and George entered ClassHack, which Bernstein describes as “a professor-specific Khan Academy.”
Students, primarily upperclassmen, at BC will be responsible for filming 12-15 minute lectures on a class that they had previously aced, giving professor specific advice as well as insight into the class material to current students, Bernstein said. These students, called Class Coaches, would be compensated for their work. Bernstein and George provide them with filming equipment and edit the videos.
“We want to try and eliminate the professor barrier that students are facing if they are doing well in a class but they don’t really understand the professor,” Bernstein noted.
At the Beantown Throwdown, spectators were given fake money that they could give to the startup they thought had the best pitch. However, Bernstein said, the judging system is slightly flawed.
“We didn't realize that everyone got money. We thought it was just going to be a panel of judges, so basically whichever school brought the most people won, which ended up being Boston University. We didn't bring anyone because we didn't realize that was how it worked. We still got a decent amount of votes, but we realized we had no chance as soon as we realized how the system worked,” he said.
Bernstein and George, however, were not discouraged by their loss, Bernstein said. "I think the Beantown Throwdown was really great and we met some contacts that want to put us in touch with people we're really interested in [working with], so it was totally worth it. It wasn't about winning, it was about just being able to get publicity and get the contacts we wanted to."
The duo also founded YouSit, a localized Craigslist for students trying to sell various dorm furnishings. Last year, they entered their business plan to the Boston College Venture Competition, and received 2nd place. Both stayed in Boston over the summer and worked with Soaring Startup Circle, a startup accelerator founded by BC alumni, to develop YouSit. Midway through the program, however, they changed their business platform.
“We realized we needed something more honed in, something simpler. We thought: ‘What's one thing that we know all college students live and die by?’ We realized that one thing every college student has in common is caring about his or her grades,” he said.
ClassHack should be up and running sometime during the second semester of this school year, he revealed.