Join 1363 founders getting motivational stories of how other founders started and grew their online businesses

Brainly: A Young Boy's Vision Come to Life


Entrepreneurs don't always go through a painful journey to lay the foundations for their success. Sometimes, the most fulfilling experiences can also trigger effective and in-demand business solutions.

That's a significant piece of one of today's most intriguing puzzles: Brainly!

A labor of the early, behind-the-desk CEO ways of Michal Borkowski, today Brainly is one of the most successful educational platforms in the world. Nevertheless, the road to business accomplishments turned out to be vastly different than the joyride Michal knew his life to be.

But, as fortune favors the brave, Brainly stood tall against the storm and conquered the world of educational entrepreneurship.

Here's how:

The Beginnings

Small ideas lead to big victories, and big victories pave the path to success. The most crucial part that breathes life into this bold ambition, however, demands fearlessness, determination, and providing a solution to an existing problem.

In essence, that's the conceptual groundwork of Brainly and its three founders - Michal Borkowski, Tomasz Krauz, and Lukasz Haluch. All born and raised in different towns across Poland, the trio was brought together thanks to Michal's vision, who even today serves as Brainly's CEO and co-founder.

But, what does it take to bring a monumental vision to life and create one of the most successful educational tech platforms in the world?

Odd as it may sound, it all began with a quality learning experience!

High-school students have similar modus operandi, and even though different students master different subjects, there's always the opportunity to grow with the flow. For Michal, high school was a collaborative effort of knowledge and putting theory into practice. As part of the strongest class in his generation, Michel relied on the help he acquired from other students. Such curiosity and the sense of teamwork helped the future entrepreneur gain high marks in his classes and stand out from the crowd.

Being a highly ambitious individual since his early youth, Michal initially co-founded Q&A networks in his unripe years of entrepreneurship. The concept for these networks was quite simple - users could ask relevant education-related questions, and others provided the answers for them. Although his first entrepreneurial attempts didn't grant him his 'big break' - it gave Michal clarity in determining that subject-specific Q&As perform far better than general Q&As.

This, together with his abundant educational background stirred the creative power necessary to build what we know today as Brainly.

Big Steps Lead to Big Triumphs

In 2005, Michal attended the acclaimed Warsaw School of Economics, where he attained a degree in corporate finance and grasped further knowledge in the world of business. It was during his studies when he met Tomasz and Lukasz, and saw potential business partners in them. The three enthusiasts, supported by Michal's vision, didn't hesitate to aim high as soon as college finished.

The initial fruit of the trio's efforts was called Zadane - an early beta version of Brainly. The concept of Zadne was goal-oriented - to design a peer-to-peer learning platform where students can ask and answer questions related to their school assignments. The three young entrepreneurs struggled to find any investors to support this idea, as a platform offering learning support didn't seem like a profitable concept.

However, that didn't stop the team to fight for what they believed had great potential and even greater community purpose.

Without viable investors in sight, a humble capital in their pockets, and nothing but their own shared knowledge - still aimed high, generating a million unique users per month within the first 6 months of its launch.

This milestone proved that the platform's worth was quite deserving of the effort the three co-founders put in. Soon enough, this success would motivate the young entrepreneurs to work even harder on improving the overall quality of the platform. Merely a year into the launch, the brand grew even further across Poland, and with it came the idea of branching out.

As students relying on other students for information turned into a global phenomenon of its own, the trio's motives, too, needed to expand far beyond the Polish border and aim for a global impact.

The Diversification

At the beginning of 2011, the company founded the Russian version of the platform - Znanija. Not long after, Michal saw the potential for further foreign development, and that's when the company founded its Turkish, Latin American, Spanish, and Brazilian versions. Each of these platforms came with a respective name for each country. Because the Brazilian take on the platform was aptly named Brainly - a fitting name for a promising business - it didn't just stick around but also defined the company's debut on the market.

Penetrating multiple markets was an ambitious step for the team, but it was also one that required maximum focus and extensive work. Without holding anything back, the three co-founders continued creating new functionalities that would raise the bar of quality of the platform.

Around this time, the team introduced a gamification system that allowed students who gave answers to receive points for it, thus making the platform an addictive learning experience for its users. Aside from this feature, teachers also became part of the virtual educational story. With just a click of a button, they could now verify the best and most accurate answers on the site, which helped fortify the trustworthiness that users already nurtured towards the platform!

The most surprising part of their business model?

All their triumphs were achieved with almost no marketing ventures!

Whenever the co-founders launched a platform on a new market, they would just focus on Google Index or SEO, and gather valuable feedback from its users. By 2012, the company got its first side investment worth an alarming $500,000, courtesy of Point Nine Capital, Mariusz Gralewski, and Market One Capital.

Revolutionizing Learning Behaviour

In late December of 2013, the Brainly founders decided to put their best foot forward and launch seven new versions of Brainly, and in seven different countries. This included building English, Indonesian, Indian, Filipino, Romanian and Italian sites. By this time, the trio had seen its first business challenges, and the Indian market was the greatest of them all. Because there were 22 official languages in India to work with, adapting the platform would take far more work than anticipated.

Nonetheless, good things come to those who wait, and by 2016 the company had generated $24 million in investment funds by Point Nine Capital and Prosus. By 2017, Brainly was a brand on its own feet - well-recognized and unified. With a perpetually growing number of users, the founders aimed for quality customer service and product development. Students all over the world trusted the platform to provide them with supplementing knowledge, as did teachers, who praised the platform's mission and encouraged its widespread use.

In 2017, another groundbreaking investment, worth $14 million, rolled in from multiple corporations, allowing Michal, Tomasz, and Lukasz to launch Bask - a video education start-up that introduced video technology to Brainly.

The Evolving Growth of Brainly

Today, the number of students using Brainly rounds up at an impressive 350 million. Available in 34 countries, the brand shows no signs of quitting nor settling. Aside from its web version, mobile apps available for Android and iOS are also valuable pieces in the Brainly puzzle.

The gamification system still functions very well, giving users a fixed amount of points upon registration, while allowing more coins to be gathered by answering relevant questions posted by others. This elemental system creates the same collaborative environment which Michal grew up on. The gamification of the platform generates an official leaderboard for users who answer questions or get their answers verified. All of these user-friendly recognitions contributed to Brainly's entrepreneurship victory, turning it into one of the most trusted, reliable and resourceful trademark names of today.

With the craze surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Brainly attracted more new unique users a month than ever seen before. The total funds raised by the company since its establishment is reported to be around $68 million - and its mission continues on!

A plethora of things have contributed to the success of this edtech company, but the one worth mentioning is the team's willingness to constantly refine their business model, as well as bring an innovative flair to their service.

The undeniable success of Brainly is proof that personal experiences are crucial in the world of entrepreneurship. Even though Brainly saw its fair share of struggles, it also did something more excruciatingly significant: it pushed the boundaries of accomplishment, aimed for greatness, and ultimately, achieved it. What a ride!