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The venture bringing flashcards into the future

13 January 2022

Flashcards are a tried and true method of studying for revision that has been souped-up through research and technology by University of Auckland student venture, Zorbi. Since Zorbi’s official launch in August 2021, Zorbi has grown to over 15,000 users with several schools on the platform, and over 300,000 flashcards reviewed per month.

Zorbi was founded by University of Auckland Engineering student Sukhans Asrani, who seeks to help others find the most efficient way possible of studying. Sukhans says “Zorbi makes studying easy and efficient through flashcards that can predict when you’ll forget them by asking users how difficult it was to answer each flashcard. Our algorithm uses their rating to figure out when they’ll forget that card. Students like studying this way because it streamlines the learning process. All they have to do is open Zorbi, hit “Study for 5-minutes”, and it re-teaches them the content that they don’t know.”

Sukhans was motivated to start Zorbi based on his own experience. He says “I hated studying more than anyone I knew. I started researching efficient learning so that I could free up some time for my personal projects.” 

Zorbi is based on techniques such as active-recall and spaced repetition. Sukhans says “Most people aren’t able to adopt this type of learning because existing tools are difficult to use, lack gamification, and don’t synergise with existing study habits. Zorbi’s strategy focuses on exam-first spaced-repetition, integrations, and motivation theory.”

Most of Zorbi’s users are in Europe and the Americas. While they have school packages, Zorbi mostly runs on a freemium business model, where users can pay for access to an upgraded product. The business model is familiar to Sukhans who has been an entrepreneur since the age of 12. “I experimented with pretty much everything from making websites for people to selling RuneScape money making ebooks. I found my love for building products in high school when I started selling add-ons for a sandbox game called Garry’s Mod (a bit like Roblox). My top add-on ended up being used by 25,000 users and that was an incredible feeling. The feedback loop of building, talking to users, and solving their problems was addictive and I knew I needed to experience that high again. Big-tech is pretty great but it’s nowhere near as fulfilling as directly solving problems for people, which is what we get to do through Zorbi.”

Early learnings of the importance of iteration and validation have stuck with Sukhans. Zorbi has a group of over 600 ‘Zorbians’ – users on a discord channel who provide valuable feedback on product development. Sukhans says “I found research that showed over 80% of students were studying ineffectively. Zorbi serves a few specific niches that, without validation, we would have built terrible solutions for. All of our success so far comes from the fact we launched with an early MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and then we listened to what our users needed. It’s important to build tight feedback loops with your users.”

Zorbi’s founding team includes fellow Engineering graduates and students William Shin, Yaotang Zhong and Fraser McCallum. Sukhans says “Zorbi wouldn’t be where it is today without them. I met all of these guys at university. I think it’s really important to get involved with clubs like DEVS and Velocity so you can make like-minded friends. Who knows – you might end up founding a start-up with them one day.”

Velocity is the student-led entrepreneurship development programme administered by the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Sukhans has also been involved with CIE’s Start-up Studio programme, which offers students free co-working space with professional development opportunities and other wrap-around support. Sukhans says “Start-ups can be lonely, stressful, and difficult. The Start-up Studio programme is an incredible initiative because it gives students and recent graduates access to a network of other founders going through the same journey. I’ve built relationships with several amazing friends and mentors throughout my year working in the Start-up Studio.”

Sukhans emphasises the importance of community, self-awareness and soft skills in the journey towards becoming an entrepreneur. “During university, I always saw myself as a CTO-type that would focus on architecture. Now I feel like my engineering capability is the least valuable skill I possess. The hardest part of being a founder has nothing to do with your business. You need to learn to manage your own psychology. During the past year, I’ve seen start-ups break the most emotionally stable people I know. It’s painful and you’ll make a lot of sacrifices that might never pay off. Winning in this world is not about working an extra 10 hours – it’s about making the right decisions. You need to have a clear and stable mind to be able to do that. I highly recommend watching How to Win by Daniel Gross.” 

In the immediate future, Zorbi has some exciting development releases lined up to coincide with the start of the Spring semester in North America. Longer term, Sukhans shows every sign of being a serial entrepreneur and is one to watch.

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

13 January 2022

Flashcards are a tried and true method of studying for revision that has been souped-up through research and technology by University of Auckland student venture, Zorbi. Since Zorbi’s official launch in August 2021, Zorbi has grown to over 15,000 users with several schools on the platform, and over 300,000 flashcards reviewed per month.

Zorbi was founded by University of Auckland Engineering student Sukhans Asrani, who seeks to help others find the most efficient way possible of studying. Sukhans says “Zorbi makes studying easy and efficient through flashcards that can predict when you’ll forget them by asking users how difficult it was to answer each flashcard. Our algorithm uses their rating to figure out when they’ll forget that card. Students like studying this way because it streamlines the learning process. All they have to do is open Zorbi, hit “Study for 5-minutes”, and it re-teaches them the content that they don’t know.”

Sukhans was motivated to start Zorbi based on his own experience. He says “I hated studying more than anyone I knew. I started researching efficient learning so that I could free up some time for my personal projects.” 

Zorbi is based on techniques such as active-recall and spaced repetition. Sukhans says “Most people aren’t able to adopt this type of learning because existing tools are difficult to use, lack gamification, and don’t synergise with existing study habits. Zorbi’s strategy focuses on exam-first spaced-repetition, integrations, and motivation theory.”

Most of Zorbi’s users are in Europe and the Americas. While they have school packages, Zorbi mostly runs on a freemium business model, where users can pay for access to an upgraded product. The business model is familiar to Sukhans who has been an entrepreneur since the age of 12. “I experimented with pretty much everything from making websites for people to selling RuneScape money making ebooks. I found my love for building products in high school when I started selling add-ons for a sandbox game called Garry’s Mod (a bit like Roblox). My top add-on ended up being used by 25,000 users and that was an incredible feeling. The feedback loop of building, talking to users, and solving their problems was addictive and I knew I needed to experience that high again. Big-tech is pretty great but it’s nowhere near as fulfilling as directly solving problems for people, which is what we get to do through Zorbi.”

Early learnings of the importance of iteration and validation have stuck with Sukhans. Zorbi has a group of over 600 ‘Zorbians’ – users on a discord channel who provide valuable feedback on product development. Sukhans says “I found research that showed over 80% of students were studying ineffectively. Zorbi serves a few specific niches that, without validation, we would have built terrible solutions for. All of our success so far comes from the fact we launched with an early MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and then we listened to what our users needed. It’s important to build tight feedback loops with your users.”

Zorbi’s founding team includes fellow Engineering graduates and students William Shin, Yaotang Zhong and Fraser McCallum. Sukhans says “Zorbi wouldn’t be where it is today without them. I met all of these guys at university. I think it’s really important to get involved with clubs like DEVS and Velocity so you can make like-minded friends. Who knows – you might end up founding a start-up with them one day.”

Velocity is the student-led entrepreneurship development programme administered by the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Sukhans has also been involved with CIE’s Start-up Studio programme, which offers students free co-working space with professional development opportunities and other wrap-around support. Sukhans says “Start-ups can be lonely, stressful, and difficult. The Start-up Studio programme is an incredible initiative because it gives students and recent graduates access to a network of other founders going through the same journey. I’ve built relationships with several amazing friends and mentors throughout my year working in the Start-up Studio.”

Sukhans emphasises the importance of community, self-awareness and soft skills in the journey towards becoming an entrepreneur. “During university, I always saw myself as a CTO-type that would focus on architecture. Now I feel like my engineering capability is the least valuable skill I possess. The hardest part of being a founder has nothing to do with your business. You need to learn to manage your own psychology. During the past year, I’ve seen start-ups break the most emotionally stable people I know. It’s painful and you’ll make a lot of sacrifices that might never pay off. Winning in this world is not about working an extra 10 hours – it’s about making the right decisions. You need to have a clear and stable mind to be able to do that. I highly recommend watching How to Win by Daniel Gross.” 

In the immediate future, Zorbi has some exciting development releases lined up to coincide with the start of the Spring semester in North America. Longer term, Sukhans shows every sign of being a serial entrepreneur and is one to watch.


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