Nowadays, online education has become an important method for people to pursue their studies. But whilst the learning resources are plentiful and easily accessible, how many of us can keep up the motivation to finish courses that we’ve begun?

The average retention rate of online education platforms is just 5%, says Toby Hoenisch, CEO of Japanese startup StudyPact, at DreamPlus Day 2014. Only five out of a hundred people finish courses they sign up for.

Studypack-TobyStudyPact CEO Toby Hoenisch

Sensing great market potential in this sector, Toby launched StudyPact, a Tokyo-based online study retention tool last year. Premised on having a stake in something you believe in, StudyPact help users achieve their learning goals by adopting a betting mechanism. After choosing courses on one of the integrated study apps, users should decide how many hours they want to study each week and how much money they want to stake on each hour. Once the week ends on midnight Sunday, those who failed to meet their goals for the week are charged according to the pre-set stakes, while those who accomplished their tasks get paid with the money from people missed their goals that week.

“Our expertise is not on content, like teaching languages”. StudyPact does however cooperate with online education content providers, and has been integrated in more than 150 major learning apps like Duolingo, Coursera, and Udemy, said Toby. Language learning is among the most popular topics on the platform, because it demands a longer time frame for users to attain their targets, he added.

StudyPack-Pic

As for payment, users can simply connect their StudyPact account to their credit cards. The platform does not charge users if they achieve all their targets, said Toby.

StudyPact’s Android app is currently running in beta version. It has amassed more than 1,000 downloads after six months of operation, of which around 80% of users have accomplished their tasks and 20% are converted to paying users.

Toby, a big data and gamification expert with a passion for behavioral design, conceived the idea of StudyPact in March last year, and went on to build prototypes to validate the concept. Two co-founders of the company joined him earlier this year, Paul Kitti is an experienced designer and Evan Grossman is a mobile developer whose previous work included a #1 downloaded app in the Japanese iTune Store.

StudyPact is a recent incubatee of Japanese incubator Open Network Lab and it is planning to raise US$1 million seed funding for team construction and marketing.