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Startup Roundup: ExPrep Plans MS Excel Training App

If used to its fullest capacity, the application Microsoft Excel has the potential to help solve great problems with managing information. Yet, most high school and college students only know how to compute some basic functions or maybe create some tables in Excel. It seems that for many of these information-age members, it’s hard to  decipher and add value to the data that is constantly being generated.

If this is the case, then why is there not a program to effectively teach students about Excel? Well, a Syracuse startup company is in the process of solving that problem. Introducing, ExPrep.


Who: Brandon Eng and Mark Skinner
Interactive training application for Microsoft Excel
Where: Syracuse University
When: Fall 2013 – present
Addressing The Problem:
Lack of an interactive program to train people in Excel

What Is It?

ExPrep is a hands-on and interactive training application for Microsoft Excel.

The app provides pre-set and customized lessons while providing interactive feedback to correct mistakes. The program also accounts for any mistake that a user can make or tends to make while learning Excel skills.

Brandon Eng via
Brandon Eng via

Why ExPrep?
While students Brandon and Mark were brainstorming for the company’s name, they found the importance of the word, “preparation.” As a result, they thought about “ExPrep” as a shorter name for Excel Preparation.

Training for All Levels

ExPrep provides training for beginner, intermediate and advanced user levels.

Currently, the startup’s offering includes basic proficiency courses for small/medium-sized companies and training and development organizations. Specific industries are also targeted that required advanced proficiencies. The company aims to reach those who need training and development in various organizations and companies.

Mark Skinner
Mark Skinner

Not only does the program help establish skills, the team found that the software prepares you for the workforce. As a recent graduate of Whitman School of Management, Brandon found himself constantly stressed over learning the countless skills within Microsoft Excel. As a student, he would often watch tutorials but would quickly fall asleep from the lack of engagement, he said. From that point forward, he decided that a program needed to be developed that trained people in Excel.

The ExPrep Team 

The two founders are Syracuse University students who met on the University Ultimate Frisbee Team, and found common interests, which later included the vision for ExPrep.

As Brandon likes to put it, Mark is the brains of the company as the developer, while Brandon is the face of the company, as he manages  business operations. These include building the company through sales, to attending meetings, to providing Excel content for the software.

Student Sandbox at the Tech Garden
Student Sandbox at the Tech Garden

Currently, Mark is working as a full-time intern during the day in New Jersey, while working on developing the ExPrep software nights and weekends. his work includes managing the ExPrep database and server as well.

Brandon works part-time at a consulting firm while also working full-time with ExPrep. They work from the Student Sandbox in downtown Syracuse, and at the Couri Hatchery incubator in at Syracuse University’s Whitman School.

The team strives to communicate every day, even on weekends, to discuss details about the company and to simply talk as good friends. Additionally, the team tries to be as flexible as possible, tackling their to-do list as a high priority. Collectively, this dynamic duo works extremely well together as they highly trust each other.

Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel

What’s Next for ExPrep?
ExPrep is currently striving to finish development by August and initiate testing their program for predetermined testers.

Growth-wise, the team wants to have more than 15 different clients by December, in order to reach their desired revenue level by next May.

As a member of this summer’s Student Sandbox, the ExPrep team has been working with a lot of other students there, helping each other throughout the summer. More importantly, Brandon shared that receiving resources and expertise advice from both John Liddy and Braden Croy (director and assistant director) has been a great help for the company.

What do you think about the service ExPrep can offer? Would you take a course? Would you recommend it to others? We’d like to hear your comments, so leave them here!

Hikari Matsuo

Currently, I am a senior in the iSchool majoring in Information Management and Technology with a Global Enterprise Technology minor. Recently, I picked up a growing interest in the upcoming Internet of Things and am curious about its applications in the future. Tweet me, connect with me, let's talk!

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