GES 2014: Symbolab takes the hassle out of the equation

GES 2014: Symbolab takes the hassle out of the equation

GES 2014: Symbolab takes the hassle out of the equation

We continue out short series of posts featuring the winners of the Israeli quarterfinals of the GES Awards, and here’s (almost) everything you wanted to know about Symbolab, which came in 3rd.


Math is probably the least loved subject with students, to put it mildly. Enter Symbolab, winner of the 3rd place in the recent GES 2014 Israeli competition, with their attempt to make things easier for middle school, high school and college students.

Symbolab was founded in late 2011 by Michal Avny (CEO), Adam Arnon (Chief Scientist) and Lev Alyshayev (CTO). “We started as a search engine for scientific equations”, explains Avny, who was previously the general manager of Israeli real time search start-up Relegence, which was acquired by AOL. “The search engines we use everyday, such as Google and Bing, might find pages in which elements of the equation appear (if someone had previously wrote them as a searchable data).  However, they treat the “problem” as a text they need to find, and not as equations.  We introduced a different approach, an approach that handles math as a new language.”

So Symbolab created an engine which actually enables the user to enter an equation and find the answer, if it exists. Then they added the ability to perform the actual calculation, supply the answer, and include all the steps in between, so the user can understand how he got the answer.


Michal Avny, Symbolab’s CEO

“There are other services which perform calculations and show the process, such as Wolfram Alpha and MathWay”, admits Avny, “but our approach is different – while they use an analytic approach to the problem, we are using machine learning algorithms, which allow us to provide step by step solutions for a much larger set of problems including inequalities, functions, limits, integrals, and even trigonometric proofs.

Symbolab’s business model is based on three major revenue opportunities: The website will stay free of charge, promises Avny, but it displays advertisements. A mobile application (currently avaliable for IOS, with Android version in the works) is priced at a one-time payment of $4.99 which includes all future upgrades. Lastly, Symbolab will partner with educational entities and offer its platform – such partnership is currently underway with Khan Academy, and Symbolab’s technology will be implemented in Khan Academy’s Hebrew website, as part of a pilot which be launched this August. “The partnership with Khan Academy shows another benefit of our platform”, explains Avny, “we can automatically create new equations for the user to practice with, generate hints, and verify the solution”. Symbolab currently reports over a million users on its various platforms.

Symbolab currently has 5 employees, and has raised $1 million from private investors. The company is currently in the process of raising another round of funding.