Editor’s Note: Semil Shah is an EIR with Javelin Venture Partners and has been a contributor to TechCrunch since January 2011. You can follow him on Twitter at @semil.
“In the Studio” welcomes someone who created a project during his sophomore year of high school, released it to the world two years later, spent three years in college before dropping out to work on the company full-time, and now, almost eight years later, is continuing to build technologies and products for millions of students and teachers worldwide.
Andrew Sutherland, the founder and CTO of Quizlet, has an incredible entrepreneurial story. At age 15, while in his second year of high school, he developed a web program to help him better prepare for a quiz. He scored a 100%, and kept building the product. Two years later, he launched the product to the public, enrolled in MIT, and was both a student and founder of a fast-growing company. Three years into college, Sutherland moved back to San Francisco (where the company had located under his CEO, Dave Margulius), and since then, there’s no looking back for Quizlet.
With all the talk of growth, quick flips, and me-too product “innovation” swirling around tech circles today, the story of Quizlet’s growth has been kept under-the-radar. The statistics, eight years in the making, do not lie: just 18 months ago, Quizlet served two million monthly uniques, and this school season, started with 10m monthlies, expected to increase soon given the cyclical and predictable schedule of the school year and the naturally viral loops of having kids in class use the same product. Sutherland and his team have intentionally kept Quizlet open, believing in the power of user-generated software put in the hands of millions of students at all age levels, even up to those continuing education and/or focused on specialized vocations. Sutherland also decided to remain CTO and bring in a more experienced operator as CEO, a partnership which allows him to focus on product and keep the social and business missions of the company intact. The company is self-sustainable based on ad revenues, located in San Francisco’s SOMA district, hiring for technical and non-technical roles, and continuing on its stated mission to reach every student in the world with its unique user-generated content learning platform. With growth like this, it just may be possible.