6 Questions with Nick Gavin, Founder of StackUp

Nick Gavin is the CEO of Stackup, a multi-purpose tool that securely tracks your time reading on every website.

1. First of all, can you tell us a little about your role and what you do at StackUp?

I am the CEO of StackUp – Our noble cause is to empower digital learning with a tool that quantifies all your reading online.

StackUp is a browser extension that securely measures your time learning at every website and then automatically scores and categorizes that time into 60 subject areas (from reading an article to taking an online class).

I run day-to-day operations, partnerships, and strategy. I am currently working on designing a feature to help teachers and students make reading online fun, and to allow kids to explore their passion online.

2. What are some of the mistakes you have made with StackUp that other founders can hopefully learn from?

Testing 1.2.3 – You have probably heard it before, but building analytics into everything you create really pays off later.

At first, it can seem obvious that you are doing something right, but in case things don’t turn out as planned, having the proper analytics gives you something to turn to for next steps.

Otherwise, you can be shooting in the dark. Knowing the outcomes of tweaks you make and new features you add gives you a foundation to build from.

This includes simple google analytics, but also going one step further with it to track button clicks, and following up with user interviews. We did not do this right on our prototype, and now we are fixing this mistake.

3. Where do you see online education heading in the next 5-10 years?

I hope online education heads in the direction of freeing education – physically and financially. Real learning is very hard to capture and is best delivered in many different shapes and sizes depending on the person.

In order to have survived this long as a species, there is a reason why we are all good at different things. A tribe could only survive with its members having a combination of skills.

This remains today, but the amount of skills required as a whole “tribe” or society to succeed has obviously grown a ton.

Everyone is a genius at something, but how could we facilitate learning in all these different ways without the help of the web? The missing key is convincing those who evaluate learning (Employers, Colleges, Parents, Etc.) to accept these new ways of learning.

Once this happens, there will be a paradigm shift, and I hope it will come in the next 5-10 years.

4. Let’s talk you – what apps, software, and tools can’t you live without?

I don’t need too much: Two big monitors, multiple browsers (dozens of tabs), fast internet, google drive, and an espresso machine. However, we have recently moved into a brand new office with mountain views – That doesn’t hurt, or maybe it does when we have people gazing out the windows? Hmm.

5. What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

Not to toot our own horn, but I use StackUp to see where I am using my time. StackUp is a great personal productivity tool, since you can see where you are spending your time online.

I try to make sure I am spending at least a few hours a week keeping up with the latest marketing techniques, technologies, and startup news. For example, I can see how much time I spend reading on foundersgrid.com.

6. What resource have you watched/read/listened to that’s had the biggest impact on your business/life so far this year, and why?

A neural scientist named J.W Wilson came in to help us with StackUp. This guy was the craziest and smartest person I have ever met. He just made us think differently and used science to back it all up.

His book isn’t out yet, but there is a Ted Talk by Simone Sinek who talks about some of the same things.

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