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Forget stressful exam periods with KTH startup Kollin

Published Aug 29, 2019

Ever procrastinated for too long and ended up losing sleep over an exam? KTH startup Kollin is here to put an end to your worries.

A few years ago, two people at KTH separately started working on the same task: helping students through difficult and stressful exam periods.

As Kristofer Espinosa was studying International Business in Montreal, he was about to face a classic week of cramming ahead of his Finance exam, for which he evidently hadn’t studied. Luckily, he stumbled upon a crash course offer, an 8-hour intensive exam-preparation course providing all the necessary tools to ace the exam. Back in Sweden, and a year into the program Industrial Engineering and Management at KTH, he started organizing week-end long crash courses for KTH students, and in the process launched the first version of what was to become Kollin, back then not much more than a few google spreadsheets.

- Crash courses were put on hold as I left for an exchange semester in Mexico, says Kristofer. But when I came back I noticed that people were still hanging out on this rudimentary Google spreadsheet. I felt bad for them and developed a user-friendlier website instead.

Tâm Vũ moved to Sweden from Vietnam in 2007, and began his journey at KTH by studying a Master of Science in Engineering and of Education, with specialization in Mathematics and Physics. Finding his passion in teaching, he’s grown to become something of a legend among KTH students wanting help with math. Tâm runs the Facebook group Två wurrar med Tâm with nearly 4500 members, and has in his 8 years at KTH taught in all 18 engineering programs.

- How I feel about teaching is like when I take the first piece from a box of chocolates, or watch a really good drama episode on Netflix, says Tâm. I just want more.

Soon after joining Tâm’s Facebook group, Kristofer noticed that Tâm had recommendedhis site to its members, so he contacted him to join forces. They instantly understood that they shared the same ambition to make studying less stressful, more efficient, and maybe most importantly, more fun.

Tâm describes the typical exam-study process:

- Find 30 old exams and download them. That means around 250 problems to solve. Start with exam number one, and attack it one problem at a time. Get stuck, look for a formula in a heavy book, google without finding anything relevant or three different answers. Go back to the problem after 40 minutes of reading and realize you’re still not sure how to solve it. Repeat. At the end of the day, you’ve gotten through maybe two exams at the most. This can’t be the most efficient way of studying.

Kollin solves this problem by sorting past exam questions by topic and difficulty. This indexation allows you to start with the easiest exercise from a certain topic and work yourself up to the most difficult level. Courses are essentially drilled down to tiny, digestible pieces of knowledge, on which students can test themselves and track their progress.

The whole point is to make you reach a state of flow while studying. You know, when you’re so engaged in an activity that you lose all sense of space and time. This basically happens when you match the challenge-level of a task with your own skill-level. You are confident in your ability to complete the task, and you get immediate feedback on your advancements. It’s the holy grail of learning.

Kollin is now approaching 5,000 users, and feedback from the students has been fantastic.

- Some students have reported halving their study time. Others who were worried about their graduation because of one specific course they had repeatedly failed finally made it thanks to our tools. User gratitude is the best feedback we can get, says Tâm.

In September 2018, Kollin was one of 15 startup projects accepted to the KTH Innovation pre-incubator program. The third pillar to the team, Adnan Jamil, is a computer science prodigy at KTH who has been coding websites since the age of 13. They moved into KTH Innovation’s office space and got ready to spend a year developing Kollin.

- The program is great, says Kristofer. Before, we met in a basement without wifi. Having office space on Campus has meant that we have been able to meet regularly, become more professional and grow our team. It’s a game changer.

Anyone at KTH who has an idea can come to KTH Innovation, but the those in the pre-incubator program have the advantage of sharing an office with the KTH Innovation team, which means advice and support is always within reach. Kristofer mentions the support from KTH Innovation’s legal counsel Lenakim Arctaedius, and their coach Gustav Notander, who have helped solve many problems on the way.

To other KTH students who are considering developing an idea, he says:

- Sweden is a great cocoon for starting a project. Whether you’re the eternally unsatisfied type of person or you think you just have a hunch on how to solve a problem, you are lucky to be here at KTH. You have talented friends surrounding you, you’re learning interesting and practical things and a relatively risk-free environment with supportive people. If you’ve ever played around with the idea of starting something, now is a good time to try.

Tâm adds:

- I’m not an entrepreneur, but not everyone has to be CEO or project manager. If you’re a KTH student who wants to change the world, you can contribute in many ways. Everyone’s skills are needed. You just need to make it happen.

Kollin graduates from the KTH Innovation pre-incubator program in October. By then, they intend to go to a few more schools in Sweden. If you are curious or want to join along the way, swing by KTH Innovation and you’ll see how it’s like. 

Kollin

Kollin helps university students through tough exam periods, by sorting past exam questions by topic and difficulty. They are part of Batch 8 of the KTH Innovation pre-incubator program. 

Have an idea of your own you'd like to spend a year developing? Apply to Batch 10 of the KTH Innovation pre-incubator program by September 4th! 

Current team: Kristofer Espinosa (project leader), Adnan Jamil (full-stack developer), Tâm Vũ (content manager), Nicolas Jonason (machine-learning engineer) and Martin Paraszczak (business developer).

Past contributors: Alexandre Grauby (front-end engineer), Michael Wink (back-end developer) Daniele Spaccapeli (UX designer), Ziling Li (graphic designer), Minal Jadeja (brand strategist) and Johanna Simfors (community manager).

Website: www.kollin.io

Did you know: 9 nationalities have worked with Kollin so far. Feel free to join them regardless of your origins! 

Page responsible:innovation@kth.se
Belongs to: About KTH
Last changed: Aug 29, 2019