Update: How We Found Our Niche And Just Launched Our Technology Into 52 Schools

Published: February 14th, 2023
Ghazal Qureshi
UpBrainery Techno...
from Houston, TX, USA
started March 2020
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hello! I am Ghazal Qureshi, the founder, and CEO of UpBrainery technologies. Has it been 2 years already since StarterStory last featured us? I am thrilled to be reached out again by StarterStory to provide an insight into what has transpired since and where my entrepreneurial journey has led me. Hopefully, my story will motivate and inspire another set of future entrepreneurs to be brave enough to dip their toes into the crazy ride we call Entrepreneurship.

UpBrainery is a start-up tech company that focuses on revolutionizing modern education to fit the evolving needs of schools, parents, and students. We are on a mission to build better brains through the advanced technology of artificial intelligence and machine learning. We aim to transform the educational sector by expanding our EdTech platform Brainlab which is used by students, educators, and parents. With such versatility, UpBrainery has grown into a powerful educational technology company.

As of the end of 2020, my team has grown to over 60 members. Our team members include professionals that are passionate about changing the face of education and providing a much more experiential learning environment coupled with both technology and immersive content.

With an average of over 15 years of curriculum development experience under each of their belts, our passion has driven us to deliver over 10,000 hours of tested and proven curriculum in the last few years. This content is delivered on our technology platform BrainLab which provides unparalleled immersive experiences to students of all abilities.

Pandemic was an eye opener for every industry but especially education. As we all saw, students were stuck in zoom classrooms, clicking multiple screens and navigating through several tabs to get to the relevant content. This opened a technological and innovation getaway for not only revolutionizing the educational systems in the US but also worldwide.

This provided proof positive for us that the technology platform, which we started to design, not as a reaction to Covid but rather as our solution to drastically shake up the student and teacher experiences and address personalized learning in a traditional classroom, was the right approach.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

Having launched UpBrainery right before schools shut down for the pandemic, it swayed and pivoted during the pandemic like many others. However, we took the time to keep building our technology and incorporate user suggestions. This allowed us to hone in on what sets us apart from other educational platforms. From our customer conversations and discussions, we identified that our strength was coupling our platform with our unique and immersive experiential content.

The combination of these two is our secret sauce to the acceleration of our growth. We built out our technology to incorporate AI and machine learning for a better-personalized experience and added in badging and micro-credentials to build out the user skills development journey.

This allowed us to settle into our niche of providing students in elementary school to explore careers from where they move into gaining insight into skills assessment and related careers in middle school and finally by the time they reach high school, they are well-equipped to understand which paths align with their interests and work on gaining skills that appeal to them. This entire journey is captured on our platform through badges and micro-credentials which allows them to see how it translates to Higher Ed or straight to the workforce.

When building a business, it is important not to try and boil the ocean but focus on a small niche, perfect it, and then move on.

Our business has drastically expanded since our launch. In the last two years, UpBrainery has achieved multiple milestones. As of the last year, we have become hyper-focused on providing a connection to students between academic learning and future careers. This is where we have found our niche. We believe in the power of career exploration and the appropriate skills development through interactive courses, in our series called Careers2030.

The goal is to introduce students to Jobs of not only today but the future and help them translate that to attainable and quantifiable skills based on interests and aptitudes. We can do this by merging our technology with skilled-based learning, in a very interactive and immersive manner for students.

This has allowed us to make significant gains in the marketplace with the most recent being a contract awarded to UpBrainery by the Department of Defense to launch our technology and our skills-based content into 52 schools on military bases.

Our proprietary platform Brainlab offers an exclusive, comprehensive online curriculum to parents and educators. It is a blend of AI technology and research-based content to help customize the learning styles of students with the content. This intervention has led to enormous growth and maximum benefits.

Moreover, we are engaged in the B2B side, by offering these services to custom or white-glove organizations and schools to make education more interactive and innovative. We aim to provide hyper-focused teaching pathways and insights into a student’s educational experience. Our data analytics and Machine learning coupled with our platform provide an experiential journey for each Student.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

Businesses are not easy to run, various hurdles make you believe that maybe what you are doing is not good enough, however, this is the moment when you must decide that no matter what, you have to stand up to your cause and feed the dedication.

The biggest challenge that I faced was recruitment. In a huge pool of people, it gets difficult to find the right team members; people with drive and motivation.

As a picky person, I want to put people in place that have insight into our values and dedication. The best team is that which doesn`t need to be micromanaged and can hold the weight of the company as we are moving forward toward success. hire the right team members, to make sure that we are putting people in place that we have the drive, and insight for this.

Another issue is fundraising. As a technology company that is growing through innovation and dedication. There is a need for large cash and funds to make our dreams turn into reality. Thus, it gets difficult at times but we are motivated to make education as interactive and productive as possible.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

Focus Focus Focus!

With multiple ideas influencing you on a daily basis it gets difficult to stick to a niche as in this world full of opportunities and probabilities, we aim to satisfy everyone. As a problem solver, you see solutions everywhere and how your product can solve so many problems. This raises many concerns. Yet to stay dedicated to tackling one challenge at a time is the best way to be productive and move ahead in building a company. This is a very important lesson for all entrepreneurs. When building a business, it is important not to try and boil the ocean but focus on a small niche, perfect it, and then move on.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

As we are flourishing in the K-12 space, we plan to strategically use our personalization technology to develop training and upskilling opportunities for private corporations. We are also planning for international expansion with multiple languages.

Currently, we are working on our webinar series, interactive books that go along our curriculum, YouTube short series, educational podcasts, and much more that tie in careers with skill building. Our prime focus is our niche, that is, career exploration and skills training, thus everything is revolving around its development and execution.

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

My go-to source of activating brain juices is podcasts, I admire the work of Freakonomics and start-up stories. Their prime focus is on current world-business strategies and enterprises delivered in a fun yet informative manner. Imagine learning how the economics of importing bananas affects the economy and what mental health strategies best counter stress, all from one source.

My inspirational hunger stems from exploring the best business strategies that are quite distant from mundane theories and explanations. I like to learn on the go and be dedicated to my uniqueness. Thus something in my ear while I am walking or running is what gets me going.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses.

As an entrepreneur, there will always be ups and downs in a business, some days you will be thriving, while on others the sun won't shine. However, these small speed-breakers should not scare you.

For many hard-working entrepreneurs out there, a piece of advice would be to focus on your product and the product market fit. It is highly important to ensure that what you are envisioning is what is really needed and most importantly if people will be willing to pay for it. I have seen many people with great ideas struggling because the idea is not the niche of their audience.

Therefore, you have to realize that what you are building is truly a product market fit. The best way to ensure that would be through customer questions and interviews. You can define your product through mock-ups, and questions right from the customers.

This way you would know whether what you are planning on building is the requirement of the market or not. Lastly, don’t be afraid to plunge into the risk factor. It is completely fine to not succeed as only through failures you can learn to progress, an entrepreneur should never be afraid to pivot.

Where can we go to learn more?

As we are constantly doing cool and exciting things, we want parents, teachers, students, and anyone else looking to gain or teach skills to students to stay in touch. We believe in open conversations and want to leverage our audience's expertise to help drive the efforts at UpBrainery.

Check out our newly launched YouTube channel for Career related series where we bring focus to how careers have evolved over the years or our Careers2030 series where we showcase the jobs and skills needed for the future workforce. Whether it's our webinar series or our other social media, we are always looking to make learning fun, exciting, and most of all ENGAGING!