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ExPrep: The Best Microsoft Excel Training Tool

ExPrep: The Best Microsoft Excel Training Tool

Investors are always looking for the next big thing from young minds trying to get their dream projects off the ground. Two such individuals can be found right here in Syracuse.

ExPrep co-founder Brandon Eng

ExPrep co-founder Brandon Eng

Brandon Eng, 22, and Mark Skinner, 21, are the co-founders of ExPrep, a new startup featuring an interactive Microsoft Excel training program. The two young men met through ultimate Frisbee while students at Syracuse University.

A Better Way to Learn Microsoft Excel

The idea for ExPrep first came to Eng while he was a sophomore taking a class that required using Excel. Eng admits he was not very good at using the software and felt that the training he was receiving was unsatisfactory.

“I had to watch a lot of video tutorials on Google,” he said. “We had a lot of homework on Excel. I ended up passing out from all of these tutorials. A lot of my peers were struggling with Excel. I thought this was ridiculous. There has to be a better way to learn this.”

ExPrep, a new startup founded by two Syracuse University students, offers microsoft excel training courses.

Brandon Eng and Mark Skinner, ExPrep co-founders

Eng took it upon himself to come up with a better method of Microsoft Excel training and eventually floated his ideas to Skinner, a freshman at the time. Starting a company from scratch is something that Eng has been interested in even before he arrived at school.

“When I came to Syracuse, I knew that I wanted to do one of two things: to start my own company or go into sales,” Eng said.

If everything goes the way he and Skinner envision, Eng may get to check both of those boxes.

Online Microsoft Excel Training and Preparation

The primary goal of ExPrep is to be an easy, reliable source of Excel training for those who need the training for their work and for those who would just like to have it as a skill that they can put in their back pocket.

Whitman [Syracuse University’s School of Management] pressures its students to be good in Excel,” Eng said, adding that this insistence on learning the program inspired him and Skinner to give others the opportunity to become proficient as well.

Syracuse University-Whitman School of Management, is the place where ExPrep, a new startup founded by two Syracuse University students, built. ExPrep offers microsoft excel training courses.

Syracuse University – Whitman School of Management

“You’ll see ‘proficient in Excel’ on resumes and Whitman is pushing Excel certification among students before you graduate,” Eng said. “Recruiters have a hard time finding out who is good with Excel.”

Eng said that the app will run in conjunction with Excel.

“Once you run the app, you can go to the lessons,” Eng said. “It’s all pre-built. The app can track everything you’re doing in Excel.”

The training will prepare its users for any Excel proficiency test that they might be required to take to achieve certification in Excel.

A Vision Developed at Syracuse University

The development of the ExPrep app, as well as the company as a whole, was made possible by the Whitman School’s Couri Hatchery incubator, a supportive co-working space and mentorship program for students looking to start their own business.

The Couri Hatchery accepts applications from any prospective students across the many colleges at Syracuse University.

“You get to meet a lot of people. Everyone has different strengths and [they] are coming in with different ideas,” Eng said. “I think that’s what has helped make the Hatchery so strong.”

Another source that Eng and Skinner have relied upon is the Microsoft program BizSpark. While they didn’t need an Excel certification to start ExPrep, there were other licenses that were required that were available via BizSpark.

Eng said Microsoft came out with BizSpark during the recession because people were having difficulty starting companies due to limited capital. BizSpark offers their services for free for three years, with the expectation that during that time they will have gained the loyalty of their customers, who in turn will continue to pay for those services.

For two young entrepreneurs strapped for cash, the appeal of BizSpark was obvious.

“They have three criteria: you have to be making less than $1 million, be less than three to five years old and be private,” Eng said. “We were looking for new software that we needed. Man, we didn’t have money for all of this, so we had to bootstrap, research and look for other options.”

Looking to Make a Mark in Central New York and Beyond

ExPrep’s founders are currently launching their website and their search for customers and investors. While there are sure to be challenges ahead, both Eng and Skinner are excited that their dreams are about to become a reality.

“Sometimes you have those doubts. You think, ‘How long will it take us to get there?’ But there’s always a part saying, ‘Yeah, we can totally do this…we’ve got this,’” Eng said. “It’s finally when where you want to be matches up with where you are.”

About The Author

Nick Richardson

Nick is a graduate student at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications studying magazine, newspaper and online journalism. He received a Bachelor's degree in History from Boston University, and was born and raised in Buffalo, NY.


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