Sparked, structured and set in motion from university
by Elizabeth Willoughby
When LMU alumnus Felix Klühr thinks back to high school in Aschaffenburg, Germany, he had no inkling that in a few years he would cofound a startup and be orchestrating a team that creates mobile study material for university students across Europe.
Playing soccer for balance and cooking to relax, Felix was unsure of what profession he eventually wanted, so he postponed university and left Germany to work, travel and gain some experience. After completing an internship in New York city evaluating the profitability of airline routes, and working in a hotel in Tenerife, Canary Islands, he found himself highly motivated to get on with his studies. Felix decided to take business administration at LMU because of the university's excellent reputation and location, and describes his four years there as the perfect combination of freedom, social interaction and academic education.
"Studying at university is the greatest time in life," says Felix. "It is a period of freedom from responsibilities that you will probably never experience again, which allows you to do and to learn so much, and it's those moments and relationships that shape your personality."
LMU is also where he and two fellow students got a big idea. In their third semester, Felix, Korbinian Weisser and Jonas Hoffmann developed their own study materials to prepare for upcoming exams, which were increasingly being given in a multiple choice format. Rather than paying for expensive tutors or using the existing summarized study material, the three created a pool of questions taken from tailored materials to study. Their successful exam results were noticed by other students, who began to pressure them to share their methods and material.
Influenced by his course on business planning and with input from his macroeconomics Professor Flaig, Felix brainstormed with his two peers about the best way to distribute the study materials among the students as a complimentary tool to exam preparation. After some failed attempts, they decided that a mobile app would be the best way. It would also allow students to study wherever and whenever they wanted to.
Groundwork for growth
Unlike in some universities where students lose grades for missing classes, in business administration at LMU there is a three-week study period followed by all the exams, twice a year. "Other than those six weeks," says Felix, "that gives you so much freedom in the way you allocate your time. If you manage your studies properly, you can work, you can have a side project, you can do whatever you want."
Thus began Felix and his partners' steep learning curve of the development of a startup and mobile app that would give practice questions created by top students (called tutors) for specific course studies. They called it qLearning – q for quick. The startup not only provided a way for them to stand out from the other 800 plus LMU business students, but the external validation would also be important for future professional prospects.
The big breakthrough near the end of their studies came from Hub:raum, the incubator of Deutsche Telekom (DTAG), who invited Felix and his partners to move into their newly built offices in Berlin with full support for a year. They also offered the initial seed funding to develop the app. It didn't take them long to accept the offer.
18 months later, qLearning now has 275 tutors at 100 universities across Europe, and in 2014, 60,000 students were using the app for exam preparation, but Felix wants to take it further. He wants to see it used by university students across the globe, as well as by professors to provide a more blended learning experience, and to contribute to the content. It is catching on, even outside of Europe – a professor at Queens School of Business in Kingston, Ontario in Canada has started to use qLearning as a teaching tool.
"I love ideas," says Felix. "I love the execution of ideas. I want to get things done."
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