Chegg Co-Founder Aayush Phumbhra on the Future of Textbooks

Udemy is pleased to present our interview with Aayush Phumbhra, the Senior Vice President and Co-Founder of Chegg.  Chegg “lets students rent as many textbooks as they like with just a few clicks.” Udemy is excited to hear his thoughts on education and technology.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the idea for Chegg?

I came to the US to pursue my MBA at Iowa State University. The first shock to me was the cost of education as I only had $400 in my pocket!  Because of this, I got involved with a service called Cheggpost.com that made it easier for students to buy and sell textbooks as well as other campus items at Iowa State. It became apparent that students used the site primarily for textbooks so after a successful test of the textbook rental model in the Fall of 2007, we launched Chegg nationwide!

2. Chegg has been very successful in challenging the traditional text book industry.  How has Chegg been able to differentiate its services?

Not only has Chegg been able to save students millions of dollars on over 6,400 campuses nationwide, but we also offer other services for students, such as CourseRank, a course selection and review tool we recently acquired.  We also have a catalog of millions of textbook titles, which can be rented online at Chegg.com, at Borders.com, on our mobile app and from select campus stores across the nation through our Powered by Chegg program.

3.  Recently, Chegg received a substantial vote of confidence with (another) successful round of investment.  But with the rapid changes in online education and the rise of electronic text books, do you  anticipate the eventual elimination of the paperbound text book?

While the adoption of electronic textbooks is inevitable, it hasn’t seen widespread adoption among students and likely won’t for the next 5-10 years.  The majority of students, almost 75%, still prefer the feel of a paper textbook.  Our job is to give the students what they want so we’ll continue to evaluate their needs and desires, providing them with top service and tools to make their college years as productive and meaningful as possible.

4.  This year, Chegg purchased Courserank in an effort to expand its services.  What else can we expect from Chegg.com in the future?

CourseRank is a great course selection school that is just one example of how we’re trying to help students throughout their college career. In the future, expect Chegg to provide students with other tools that will help them save time, save money and, ultimately, help them do better in school.

5.  Finally, outside of Chegg, what other innovations in education technology personally excite you?

Any innovations in technology that involve personalizing the content for students so that they learn in a more efficient manner excites me.  All students have different needs and with technology, you can create ways to tailor the content according to their needs to provide them the best value.