Meet the Northern Stars: Synap wants to make you smarter, faster

Catherine Heath, December 13, 2017 3 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.

In this series, we’ll meet the winners of Northern Stars 2017. What makes 10 of the best startups from across the North of England tick? Let’s find out…

In today’s interview we meet James Gupta, Founder and CEO of Synap.

What’s your company’s elevator pitch?

Synap is an intelligent online learning platform that uses AI to help people learn more in less time. Specifically, Synap works by letting people engage with Multiple Choice Quizzes in a field they need to study, and over time our algorithms learn about their strengths and weaknesses, using that information to create a personalised learning plan just for them. The system has been shown to improve exam performance by 30%.

How did the company get started?

Synap began as a personal project between myself and my co-founder, Omair Vaiyani, during our own time studying medicine at Leeds University. We were looking for a more effective and engaging way to study than just sitting in the library staring at textbooks.

We looked into different learning models and eventually settled on the idea of studying using questions, to promote active engagement with course material. Over time this evolved from a Facebook group, to a WordPress plugin, and eventually into it’s own website and app.

At a certain point, the idea started catching on with other people in our year, and then students in different universities. A few months later we had thousands of users from around the world including lawyers, taxi drivers, special needs teachers and Boeing pilots using Synap to learn and teach.

From there, we kept growing the platform each year whilst also using it to get through our own exams. In some ways, this was difficult as we were managing two things that demanded a lot of time and attention, but on the other hand they complemented each other perfectly: being ‘power users’ of our own product

What are you looking to get out of Northern Stars?

Having proven Synap in our own field, we’re now looking to branch out and one of the areas we’re looking at is corporate training. We’ve had some incredibly successful case studies in this area and think there’s great potential for other companies looking to improve the way employee training is delivered.

With Northern Stars, we’re hoping to raise awareness of Synap and this new training method, and build relationships with new clients as a result.

What’s your biggest business challenge?

Right now, our main challenge is just getting the word out! We’ve been doing this for a few years whilst at university, but we’ve only been at it ‘full time’ for a few months. We have a really great platform, with some great stats behind it in terms of improving exam and job performance, and now we just need to find new clients and industries to scale it up!

What was it like to pitch in the Grand Final?

Exciting! We really enjoyed the evening and seeing the other companies there.

Where do you see your company in two years’ time?

I think Synap has the potential to transform the way learning and training is delivered, whether in school, university or work. Two years ago, this was just an app that two geeky medical students made in their university dorm, and now it’s something that is being used by tens of thousands of people, in a huge range of industries, around the world.

Following that trajectory, I think the next two years will be incredibly exciting for us. I’d like to see Synap working with some of the world’s leading companies and educational institutions, to help people learn more in less time.

Northern Stars, Leeds, Yorkshire, Edtech