At Osmosis, ed tech meets med ed

Shiv Gaglani is co-founder & CEO of Osmosis. The startup has a mobile app and web platform to help medical students improve how they learn.

SHIV GAGLANI, 25, of Southwest Center City, and Ryan Haynes, 29, of Charlottesville, Va., are CEO and chief technology officer, respectively, of Osmosis, which they co-founded. The startup has a mobile app and Web platform to help medical students better retain what they learn. I spoke to Gaglani.

Q: How'd you come up with the idea for Osmosis?

A: Ryan and I met as med students at Johns Hopkins and realized how inefficient learning and forgetting cycles for medical education were. We did a project allowing classmates to create and share questions related to their studies. After hearing from students at other schools, we applied to DreamIt Health.

Q: Startup money?

A: We got a $25,000 grant from Johns Hopkins and $50,000 from DreamIt Health.

Q: What's Osmosis do?

A: We sync to a student's class schedule to choose topics to recommend studying. We know students won't study a topic once an exam is over, and we help them break free of cram-forget cycles by sending push notifications (similar to text messages) on topics they need to remember for exams spaced out over time. We also stream published content to their Osmosis app.

Q: The biz model?

A: You download the app for free and get 200 practice questions. If you want 1,000 or more questions on a specific topic, you pay a one-time $30 fee. Up to now it's been business-to-consumer, but we're also doing business-to-business. We have a contract with a medical school in West Virginia which will pay us a per-user per-month fee. We'll also be going to a monthly consumer subscription.

Q: Your customers?

A: We have 15,000 users; about 80 percent are first- or second-year med students. We've partnered with American College of Physicians to put practice questions for students on Osmosis. That expands our reach to third- and fourth-year med students.

Q: Do you have competitors and what differentiates you?

A: Our competitors are test-prep companies and learning-management systems. We're fundamentally a tech company and they're more content-driven.

Q: Biggest challenge?

A: We ran a lean operation last year. We needed a good developer but didn't pursue it. Now we have more income and $50,000 in prizes from the Milken-Penn Graduate School of Education business-plan competition.

Q: How big a biz is this?

A: Four full-time employees. We could pass $100,000 in revenue by year's end.

Q: What's next?

A: We'd like to go to 30,000 users by year's end. Medicine is lifelong learning because the knowledge base is vast and evolving.


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