StudyStream is the source of this image.
Still having trouble understanding why people would want to watch others play video games on the internet? Another one that can make you think: people are using the internet to watch other people study.
While it’s easy to overlook if you’ve been out of school for a while, there’s an entire internet community dedicated to studying and learning how to (hopefully) study better, complete with Discord servers, subreddits, and unbelievably relaxing music.
One aspect of this is the “Study With Me” stream, which is, as the name implies, a livestream of someone studying that may be watched as the user studies. There may be some music playing, as well as rain sounds… The host, on the other part, will not be talking much or attempting to entertain. After all, that would defeat the purpose. Do you think anyone would watch that? Dedicated the YouTube channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and pre-recorded, hour-long study streams with millions of views are available.
While the concept of livestream studying has been around for a few years, the epidemic gave it a huge boost in popularity. When the library is closed & we’re not meant to be lounging about in stuffy rooms, how do you do study group?
StudyStream, a Y Combinator Summer 2021 team, is combining all of these ideas and building them into a platform – a dedicated online place where students can study with others, share study advice, and more. They have a Zoom community with 24/7 “focus rooms” where students can turn on their camera, meant on some headphones, and crack open their books alongside up to 1,000 other students, as well as a Discord community for students who wish to connect afterward or live study in smaller groups.
The team, which launched late last year, has already gained a lot of traction. According to co-founder Sarujan Ranjan, the platform has attracted upwards of four million users, and their Discord community just surpassed 400,000 users. Their study streams (of which six operate in concurrently) have had thousands of users online every time I’ve checked in the last two weeks. They also host onboarding streams every weekday at 8 a.m., when they explain how the focus rooms function and explain the etiquette, such as why no one is speaking.
The 1,000-person streams aren’t meant for conversing, just as talking in a library would definitely get you shushed – chatter would defeat the point. The in-Zoom chat is disabled and everyone’s microphone is blocked.
People, of course, find different ways to express themselves. Some users modify their Zoom display names to their social media accounts, while others greet one another with handwritten letters. People appear to like “waving” using Zoom’s built-in hand raise feature – it’s a lovely way to say hello, but it may also get you bumped into the first few pages of on-screen streamers, if that’s what you want.
(Of course, people will finds ways to troll – give them a webcam, an audience, and some anonymity, and they’ll do it.) As a result, StudyStream has live moderators in each of the streams, as well as a variety of ways to report anyone who is being rude.)
Ranjan and his co-founders Erfan Soliman and Tianyou Xu didn’t start out with the intention of creating a study streaming platform. They established the Knowledge Collective in 2018, an educational platform where they will hold leadership training sessions. However, after talking with more students, they discovered that the majority of them were not looking for another place to watch or read.
“Content wasn’t an issue for them.” The thing that was bothering them the most was… a lack of motivation. Alternatively, you could be unproductive or solitary. ‘I understand the subject, but I can’t bring myself to read it,’ they’d remark.
As a result, they began experimenting with study focus rooms, which quickly gained traction after a few well-known study TikTokers and study influencers (yes, they exist!) joined the platform and pushed it up. They decided it was time to focus on StudyStream as more and more users hung around and resorted to it as a way to establish community in a highly solitary time.
“We don’t want any student to have to study alone ever again,” Ranjan says, “no matter where they are in the globe.”
How will StudyStream make money if all of its focus rooms are now free to join? That is still being worked on. They’ve tried premium rooms and have plenty of other ideas in the works, according to Ranjan, but for now, they’re focused on building the platform and keeping users happy. One component of this is building the experience beyond the focus rooms; they’re presently in a closed beta of their extended web app, which will include features such as shared task lists, an overview of how long/frequently you’ve studied, and additional ways to connect with other students on the platform.
StudyStream is the source of this image.
StudyStream was a part of YC’s most recent class, but they didn’t participate in Demo Day because they’d already earned enough money for the part being. Prior to Demo Day, the team raised $2.1 million from YC, Brighteye Ventures, Emerge Education, Dunce Capital, Ali Abdaal (a well-known YouTuber who focuses on productivity and studying strategies), Manchester City footballer Ilkay Gündoan, and other undisclosed angel investors, according to Ranjan.