Watermelon Express

Ashish Rangnekar
University of Chicago Booth School of Business

For Ashish Rangnekar, the process of trying to get into the Booth School shaped his entire business school experience.

When he took the GMAT in July 2007, he was working full-time and was frustrated by the lack of resources for studying while on the go. In October 2008, he and Ujjwal Gupta, a friend from college, decided to create a smartphone application that would make studying for standardized exams easier. Nine months before classes began, Rangnekar and Gupta started working on the first program for their company Watermelon Express. They wrote 250 sets of GMAT problems and solutions and released the application in December 2008. It soon became the best-selling test-prep app for the iPhone.

When classes started in the fall of 2009, Rangnekar knew he wanted to continue working on Watermelon Express. So he took classes, joined clubs, met professors and alumni, and attended conferences sponsored by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital with one goal in mind: entrepreneurship. "Professors have been great mentors," he says. "And fellow students have provided invaluable critique and perspective."

In May, Watermelon Express won the New Venture Challenge competition at Booth, and over the past 18 months, more than 75,000 students from 20 countries have used at least one of the 66 educational apps the company now offers, including test-prep for the GRE, LSAT, SAT, and MCAT. The company, which currently employees 20 people (most on a freelance basis), charges for all of its applications. In its first month, Watermelon Express grossed $4,000 in revenue, according to Rangnekar.

While working toward graduation in the spring, Rangnekar continues to work on Watermelon Express. Over the next six months, the founders are looking to strike content partnerships with educational publishers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. -- Sommer Saadi, posted Oct. 18, 2010

(Corrects spelling of Rangnekar's name.)

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