The edtech business making learning fun

Quizlet was founded in 2005 by Andrew Sutherland, while a sophomore studying French at Albany High School in California. Since then, the company has grown into an interactive learning platform and app, used by over 60 million people around the world. We spoke to Rahim Hirji, UK Country Manager at leading online learning platform and app, Quizlet.

Accessible via the web and mobile apps on both iOS and Android, Quizlet provides a variety of study activities and games to effectively prepare students for exams, assessments and any other subject matter they want to learn with confidence.


From flashcards and practice questions to interactive diagrams and games, Quizlet combines cognitive science with AI and machine learning to intelligently guide students through adaptive study activities. And, as the largest user-generated learning platform, students and teachers can choose from over 450 million study sets on Quizlet or create their own, giving access to materials on virtually any subject imaginable.

What is your background?

Before joining Quizlet, I had already spent some time in the edtech space, having co-founded EtonX, a company teaching soft skills online, and previously operating as the CEO of Maths Doctor, an online tutoring company. Although this may sound cheesy, my passion for education came from a personal need to enable impact in the world.  This was cemented in recent years from seeing first-hand the real benefits of education provision in places like the Middle East, China and India. Access to education, coupled with technology tools, quality curricula, and excellent teachers can really change an individual’s educational attainment. This simple realisation showed me that even small changes through the use of technology in a student’s educational journey can materially change someone’s trajectory in life whether they are learning at school, university, or throughout their career.

In 2020, with the help of my amazing team, I opened Quizlet’s first overseas office in London with a view to driving international user growth in the most relevant ways for our growing markets around the world, whether that be a partnership, innovative marketing approaches or anything else bespoke to the markets in which we are in.  Ultimately, our goal is to help people practice and master whatever they are learning and by being closer to students, we are able to further improve the tools made available by Quizlet.

What sort of challenges have you faced along the way?

It’s no small feat for companies to meet the individualised needs of every student and teacher around the world. With modern learning changing and upskilling on the rise, Quizlet and similar edtech companies are met with the challenge to continually innovate and bring the best learning tools to users.

Quizlet is designed for all types of learners, and if the past year has taught us anything, it is that education as a whole is constantly developing and adjusting. For instance, the cancelling of all formative exams across the UK this year meant that students were engaging with more pop quizzes, turning lessons on their head. This meant that Quizlet’s AI and machine learning capabilities, such as our Learning Assistant, became even more important for the areas that students were struggling in, supporting them more in a way that a personal tutor might.

By working closely with our users, listening to their needs and how they engage with the platform, we are constantly learning from them, enabling us to develop the key areas that they need to succeed.

Do you think there are certain challenges that face edtech startups that other industries don’t face?

Traditional education is constantly changing and edtech needs to keep up. This means that our user base is also evolving, as students rely on our platform throughout their various stages of schooling and learning journeys.

As students progress through secondary school and into university, a greater proportion of a student's learning becomes self-directed and happens outside of class time, through hours of studying and assignments that leverage core teachings. It’s not easy to find help either, as parents and loved ones often don’t feel equipped to help students with subjects at higher levels of education. For many students, the self-reliance involved with learning becomes more acute as the stakes get bigger in their education journey.

To add to the stress, students have lost a number of important resources during the pandemic lockdown, including access to teachers, TAs and peers in which to ask questions or study with. Remote learning has put a spotlight on the issues students have always faced, with a particular emphasis on the need to fill gaps across the lack of person-to-person support and the guidance needed to learn more effectively on their own.

Self-learning has become even more critical, and more the norm. With more than 60 million active monthly users on Quizlet, we’re able to listen to learners from all over the world. What we hear loud and clear is their desire for effective tools to help them reach their learning goals.

Leveraging the latest technology and learning science principles to help people focus their time and attention for effective studying, Quizlet is in a unique position to help students conquer that overwhelmed feeling when it comes to self-learning. While the past year presented the ed tech industry with its set of challenges, it also allowed Quizlet’s mission of helping everyone learn anything shine.

How has the past year and COVID been for your business?

As we know, the pandemic completely changed traditional education around the world. Overnight, teachers turned toward edtech companies like Quizlet as an essential resource for those looking for additional support. As a result, we saw unprecedented usage internationally as students and teachers sought additional ways to share materials, keep classes engaged and learn remotely.

During the pandemic, Quizlet responded to teachers’ needs and launched a new and completely free, comprehensive online bank of revision resources based on exam board specifications. Consisting of more than 10,000 study sets across 24 key GCSE subject categories, the Quizlet GCSE Resource Centre has been created by a team of verified educators, partners and publishers - including Hodder, EdPlace Utalk and Cool Geography. The resource gives students access to revision activities including ready-made flashcards, quizzes and games and supports teachers who had been struggling with quality digital materials.

How has it affected the industry as a whole?

The education technology market has grown exponentially in recent years, as consumers of all ages engage with interactive tools to learn, revise, and upskill. As a company, we have tried to adopt the mindset of a camel, as opposed to the usual tech term of ‘unicorn’, meaning that we are investing, as a company, in the long-term goals of improving and bettering our offering and services to the consumer.

The COVID-19 crisis has been a big catalyst for companies working in the education space to improve and enhance learning processes, and that opportunity has resulted in 72% growth in the education technology market during 2020.

While self-directed learning can be challenging, even for the most motivated learners, the right resources can alleviate some of the difficulties of engaging with course materials and even make it fun. Remote learning is offering the opportunity for individuals to really tailor lessons and learning methods around their own needs by utilising diverse and interactive tools.

While remote learning has proven a success, it is no secret that many parents, students, and even teachers have struggled to get the right resources due to a lack of funding or affordability. Making digital learning tools affordable and free when possible, we believe, is imperative to give everyone access to education.

What do you have planned for the future?

We hear students when they say they need support to help them learn effectively and boost their confidence, and we’re committed to providing the guidance they need, when they need it, to push past that feeling of being stuck and through to better understanding.

Quizlet has been built for students from day-one and we intend to continue to offer the most comprehensive study support for the more than 1.5 billion students on the planet by making the studying experience more approachable, effective and accessible for everyone.

We’re proud to give people a trusted place to better learn how to study and to practice and master what they are learning.

Startup Details

Startup Details



Quizlet is a learning platform that uses activities and games to help students practice and master what they’re learning.

  • Headquarters Regions
    San Francisco Bay Area, West Coast, Western US
  • Founded Date
    Oct 2005
  • Founders
    Andrew Sutherland, David Margulius
  • Operating Status
  • Number of Employees