Jack Replinger is a current 2020-2021 Skoll Scholar and Oxford MBA. He was a Teach For America alum and taught in inner-city Memphis, Tennessee, USA for 13 years, where he founded Positive Physics, an online learning platform designed to make physics accessible to students of all backgrounds. Over 16,000 students from over 500 schools are using the site, which has generated $107,000 in sales this school year.
After seeing the success of his course, he is seeking funding to transform the site to allow other teachers, especially those who work with under-priviliged students to create their own courses and share them in a marketplace. The new project is called One Classroom.
What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
In 2007, I joined Teach For America and was assigned to teach physics in inner-city Memphis. But, despite my best intentions, my first year was a disaster. I realized that existing teaching materials were not designed by people who understood my students. So I made my own and it completely transformed my class. After turning my materials into an online platform, Positive Physics, we began to share with other schools and gain significant traction. But the most important lesson I learned was that the best teaching materials are created in classrooms. We are building One Classroom to empower great teachers to share their expertise beyond their classroom walls, providing better materials for students, increased earnings for outstanding teachers and a unique business opportunity.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
To me, entrepreneurship is about living a problem, then figuring out how to solve it for yourself and others.
How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
I originally built Positive Physics as a website for my students when I was a teacher, but after seeing how it transformed my classroom, I knew I had to figure out how to share it with others.
What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
Persistence and Optimism (for the hard times) & Humility (to always be open to feedback and asking for help)
What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
I love seeing how many students are using my site each day and getting so much positive feedback from teachers!
What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
Sal Khan (Khan Academy)
If you had 5 minutes with the above individual/ company/organization, what would you want to ask or discuss?
I would love to hear his advice on how to really scale my program and how to do good and do well at the same time.
What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
During the unexpected school closures due to COVID-19 during the 2019-2020 school year, we made the site free and our usage increased 4x in less than a month. And even after going back to charging, usage has increased 50% during 2020-2021.
What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
I am completing my first term at Oxford remotely from California, but I am really looking forward to be able to collaborate with so many incredible people from across the world.
If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?
I would send them to talk to potential customers as soon as possible!
Any last words of advice?
Try to get your product/idea in front of people as quickly as possible. You will learn so much!