Bridging the gap between education and technology

Maria Esquinca, Managing Editor

Two friends are collaborating to accomplish one thing—make education more accessible to students.

Adrian Caballero, 25, and Gabe Fernandez, 24, both El Paso natives and UTEP alumni, have come together because of their shared passion for education to create TextRev Inc., a design collaborative for tech-education products.

Both men have had shared interests from the beginning of their friendship.

Although they attended different high schools, Caballero was from Montwood High School, and Fernandez from Hanks High School, they were both in drumline. At UTEP, their friendship grew through fraternity life–Caballero was in Kappa Sigma and Fernandez was in Phi Delta Theta.

In 2013, Fernandez graduated and went off to become a music educator, while Caballero pursued his marketing degree and established an advertising business after graduating in 2014.

But education would bring them together once again.

“I felt a little unsatisfied,” Caballero said. “I felt there were some things that could be addressed in education as a whole. I knew that Gabe felt the same.”

Their expertise matches perfectly in what they are looking to accomplish. Fernandez has the educational background while Caballero has the business expertise.

“The combination of both Adrian and I is a perfect one for what we’re doing,” Fernandez said. “Adrian is very business minded and I’m very education minded, so the two together compliment each other very well.”

The project was started in El Paso, but Caballero quickly realized he would have to go elsewhere in order to take the company to the next level. He packed up his things and moved to San Francisco in order to find the right developers, which he’d been unable to find in his hometown.

“In realizing that we weren’t going to find the right person, technically, in El Paso, that’s when I decided that I had to move,” Caballero said. “You, as an individual, can only do so much, it’s really about the people you surround yourself with, that make you capable of manifesting the things that you want to come about in your life.”

Their original idea was to create video format for textbooks, which would take the content of a typical textbook and condense it into a simplified format.

However, due to technical drawbacks and its unpopularity with professors, they moved on to a different idea.

The next product they considered developing was an email decluttering service for professors, but ultimately they decided to pour their energy into a mobile-first, on-demand tutoring application called “Bryt.”

“We have this huge disparity between the amount of people who have access to education and the amount of people who have access to technology,” Fernandez said. “What we’re trying to do is create an application where virtually anyone can have access to a real education.”

While Fernandez remains in El Paso contributing his expertise and working in the Socorro Independent School District, Caballero is in Silicon Valley, where he and six software developers work to make the app a reality.

The app will launch in the spring of 2016 and will put students in touch with a guru, or online tutor, through video. Students can take pictures of examples as they talk with the guru. At the end of the session, the guru shares all of these “notes” with the student.

Students will be charged for the amount of time they spend with the tutor, with a base cost of $32 an hour.

“But you don’t have to pay for the entire hour,” Fernandez said. “So if you want to get tutored for five minutes, you definitely can do that.

A portion of their funds will go towards funding education in developing nations.

While both Fernandez and Caballero acknowledge that the service might not be affordable to everyone, the company is looking into different models to make the app accessible to many people.

One of the things they’re looking into is a program where school districts can purchase credits and give them to students.

“The reason we have to make profit is because the capability of this is huge and I foresee lots of people, lots educational entities being interested in this, and trying to incorporate it into whatever they’re doing,” Fernandez said. “And so we just want to make sure that we create a thing that works, and then figure out the rest.”

In the meantime, the development process continues. Out of apartments and random meeting places, these two UTEP alumni work to make their entrepreneurial dream a reality.

They are also looking for the gurus who will help provide the educational service that they envision. People who are enrolled in college or university, have a degree or  are an expert in their field are eligible to become gurus. For more information, visit bryt.launchrock.com.

Maria Esquinca may be reached at [email protected]