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Tampa edtech company Knack helps universities, colleges as teaching goes online

Margie Manning

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Knack, a Tampa company that connects college students with tutors and mentors, is working with its campus partners as they move to online classes.

The Florida Board of Governors last week directed all state universities to make plans to transition to remote instruction as soon as possible to try to contain the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus. Many private schools also are taking the same step.

“It’s a hectic time for all of us, and higher ed is definitely feeling the impact and seems to be adjusting as appropriate,” said Samyr Qureshi, co-founder and CEO of Knack. “With all state university system campuses migrating to fully online environments in Florida, and others following suit across the nation, we’re here to support campuses as much as we can during this time.”

Knack’s app and technology allows students to find tutors, schedule a session and meet in person or online.

“Given that we have an online tutoring interface built-in to the product, we’ve been working with our existing campus partners such as FAMU [Florida A&M University] to help migrate their tutoring centers to a fully virtual environment powered by Knack,” Qureshi said. “In addition, to help all campuses impacted by COVID-19, we’re offering free and unlimited access to Knack’s virtual tutoring environment until on-campus operations resume as usual. To be super clear, Knack does not monetize student data or any other element of this engagement; we’ve built a product that we are proud of and that students love, and therefore are offering to help campuses that may benefit from it, especially in times of need when students will continue to seek learning support.”

Qureshi and three friends launched Knack at University of Florida’s incubator in 2015.


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The company lists more than 100 colleges and universities as active campus partners on its website.

Samyr Qureshi, co-founder and CEO, Knack, with Tonjua Williams, president, St. Petersburg College

Knack has grown more than 900 percent year-over-year and added some well-known partners such as University of Florida, UF Online, Johns Hopkins University, Florida A&M, University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College and others, Qureshi said.

About a year ago, Knack evolved its business model and now works directly with universities and corporations. Accounting and consulting giant PwC and Tampa software developer ConnectWise were among the first companies to work with Knack and Qureshi said he expects to announce another big-name corporate sponsor soon.

In 2018, Knack raised $1.5 million in a seed round co-led by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, alongside Precursor Ventures in San Francisco. Knack recently closed a strategic inside round to double down on growth, Qureshi said. It also brought on a new strategic investor, Jon Chapman, founder and president of Everfi, an educational technology company in Washington, D.C.

Knack recently opened its headquarters at 514 Franklin St. in downtown Tampa, and earlier this month co-hosted a reception there for attendees of the University of South Florida National Student Success Conference.

In December, Qureshi and another Knack co-founder, Dennis Hansen, were named to Forbes 30 under 30, people who are changing the course, and the face, of business and society, according to Forbes.

“I look at Forbes 30 Under 30 as a feather in our cap — it’s an achievement to be proud of especially as it was sort of unexpected. There hasn’t been a material difference from the recognition, though it has definitely brought us some credibility and natural press/exposure which is always helpful,” Qureshi said.

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