Bhavin Parikh, Class of ’03, said his studies for the GMAT proved frustrating.

The questions in his test prep book weren’t nearly as challenging as the practice exam questions. Often, Parikh wasn’t satisfied with the book’s explanations for the correct answers and took to Google to figure out what he’d done incorrectly.

Little did he know, he’d take that frustration and turn it into a business six years after graduating from Duke.

Once Parikh got to Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, he found others who’d had similar experiences. Some paid thousands of dollars for test prep classes and still weren’t satisfied with their results; others couldn’t meet that price and studied on their own.

At Haas, Parikh partnered with three other students, and the group began to think of a new model for test prep. They called their idea Magoosh – a play on an Old Persian word “magush,” meaning “one who is highly learned, wise and generous.”

Parikh, now CEO of Berkeley-based company Magoosh, said he and his partners wanted to leverage technology to help students study more efficiently.

“There was a real opportunity, both in experience, or making sure students had a consistent experience, and access, because some people can’t afford to pay for classes or other resources,” Parikh said.

What separates Magoosh from its competitors, Parikh said, is price point. Most of their test prep products are less than $100. And for those who can’t afford that, Magoosh offers free resources like e-books and mobile apps.

“Magoosh was set up to help close that access gap and level the playing field,” Parikh said. “We wanted to reach as many people as possible. We know how stressful it is to take one of these standardized tests.”

But Magoosh didn’t want to leave students to their own devices when it came to online studying.

The product includes five- to 10-minute videos providing an overview of each topic coupled with practice questions. Each practice questions comes with a one- to three-minute video explanation that students can watch after answering.

Since its founding in 2009, Magoosh has grown to a team of 28 employees serving students in more than 180 countries, with more than 1 million students using the free resources.

About 10 percent of students who take the GRE and the GMAT are paying Magoosh customers, Parikh said, and Magoosh leaders are thrilled with the student feedback they’ve received.

And the company that Parikh helped found when he was a 28-year-old business school student has been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Fortune.

Although Magoosh has found success, Parikh said he wished he’d spent more time working on entrepreneurship while at Duke completing a double major in economics and computer science.

“After leaving college, it’s much harder to find people to test out ideas or talk with professors who have seen many companies come and go,” he said. “I was lucky that I had a second chance with business school. I’d encourage current Duke students to make as much use of their time as possible by taking action, building something and using classmates and faculty for feedback.”

Magoosh still faces challenges Parikh said, such as grappling with how to offer a more personalized approach for students who want it.

As Magoosh continues to expand, Parikh said the company wants to strengthen its products and apply the model to all standardized tests. Magoosh currently offers products for the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, Praxis and LSAT.

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