Accelerator Program Spotlight on Sensei Prep
When Sensei Prep’s founder, Shawn Thomas graduated from the University of Illinois, he helped design an ACT prep program at his former high school. Over the last seven years, Shawn continued to teach the course for a couple of weeks during the school’s winter break.
While teaching, Shawn realized that the academic abilities of each student in class were vastly different, some knew only basic math while others were experts at calculus. Shawn’s desire to truly help the students’ expand their knowledge base and improve their ACT scores lead him to develop a teaching method beyond the traditional classroom model.
Shawn, an MBA candidate at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and his co-founder, Jay Subramaniam, met in the Booth Winter Garden during orientation. They ended up in a couple of classes together and soon realized they shared an interest in education-related start-ups.
After discussing their ideas and developing a business plan over the course of the year, the pair pitched their idea to the Polsky Center Accelerator Program. Sensei is still in the very early stages. With the mentorship, creative energy and the resources from the Accelerator Program, Shawn hopes to foster more connections with other entrepreneurs in the test prep market and further develop Sensei Prep.
Shawn’s years of experience teaching ACT prep classes provided him with the knowledge to develop Sensei Prep. Jay’s familiarity with startups from his previous internship at TechStars, his practical education in finance and accounting, and his leadership responsibilities at Piramal Water have been vital assets to the team’s progress. The team’s plan is to provide students with high-quality standardized test preparation through online videos featuring prep content covering all sections of the ACT.
Sensei’s vision is to become the KhanAcademy.org of test preparation, an online and personalized approach to ACT preparation. By incorporating his personal high school and college experiences and the life lessons he learned along the way into his videos, Shawn hopes to inspire students to take a positive and effective approach to preparing for the ACT.
Keep checking back to see Sensei Prep’s progress and learn more about the 2014 Accelerator teams!