Breanden Beneschott's sister, a busy college student, had a tight schedule and was trying to squeeze studying into limited open minutes in her schedule. "She was struggling to keep up with her studies," Beneschott remembers. "She would text me a lot organic chemistry questions and I ended up tutoring her via text message." He grew very efficient at concisely explaining complex solutions using only concise, simple text messages.
"For busy students it's really hard to find an hour if time and also be in the right mindset to study," says Benenschott, a senior chemical and biological engineering major at Princeton University.
After success working with his sister, he got the idea that other people might find this method of studying just as helpful. Along with fellow Princeton student Kellam Conover, Beneschott founded smsPREP, which provides scheduled SAT, ACT, GRE, and MCAT study questions via text message to users' phones. For $19.99 a month, students can receive interactive study questions at a time that's most convenient for them. Whether they're on the train, bus, walking between classes or even in bathroom, Beneschott says there's no limit to how many texts a user can receive a day.
"As soon as they answer a question, we give them feedback, depending on if it's right or wrong," he says. "Then we wait a few seconds and send them the next question. Sometimes students do hundreds within a day."
Although the company has just a handful of employees, Beneschott contends it took a lot people help make his company successful. "We've got a number of developers and programmers who have played various roles along the way." Questions created by the company are crafted by employees who have work with the Princeton Review, Barron's, and Kaplan and it's rare that users receive the same question twice.
Satisfaction is guaranteed for all users and Beneschott says that there have been little complaints from customers. "If there's any reason, technical or some other reason, you didn't find [smsPREP] useful, then we're happy to give money back."
While using smsPREP seems better than not taking a tutorial program at all, Beneschott suggests that people get the best results when they use material from his company combined with additional practice programs such as the Princeton Review.
Overall, Beneschott says his company is doing well. "We've had several thousand students go through the system so far and currently we have a hundred students a day signing up," he adds. By the end of the year, he plans to increase the number of users, offer GMAT questions and incorporate a gaming aspect to the company. "Our ultimate plan is to open the system up so anyone can create their own test."