Zubair’s ZNotes – Helping Students Help Each Other

Spiffy the interplanetary journalist next to entrepreneur, Zubair Junjunia of ZNotes.

Hi people, my name is Spiffy, I’m an interplanetary journalist and education fan! That’s why I’m interviewing the entrepreneurs that are creating new ways to learn. I’ve traveled from talking to Isaac Nyangolo in Kenya to the UK to chat with Zubair Junjunia from ZNotes:

SPIFFY: Hi Zubair, thanks for meeting me out here. It’s only appropriate to talk outside, given how outdoorsy you are!

Zubair: You’re 100% right, I’m glad you enjoy getting out Spiffy, even if you can’t take off your spacesuit to feel the fresh air. :) What did you want to talk about today?

SPIFFY: Outside time still makes a big difference for my mental health. Could you tell me about what ZNotes does?

Zubair: ZNotes is the ultimate revision platform that harnesses student power to level the plane of uneven distribution of academic resources by providing global access to high-quality educational materials. Designed for students, by students, ZNotes provides high-quality educational resources, live learning experiences, and access to a diverse community of global learners. 

SPIFFY: You’re a student now, what about your experience inspired you to start ZNotes?

Zubair: The idea for ZNotes was born when I was giving my own IGCSE exams. I faced the problem of having incomplete resources, leading me to develop my own notes. I saw my friends facing the same issue and realized an even deeper problem: students all over the world give the same examinations but are subject to disparities in their grades due to an uneven distribution of academic resources. I developed ZNotes as a way to level this uneven plane by providing global access to high-quality notes.

a variety of books containing ZNotes' study guides including physics and maths over a blue and red background.

Above: ZNotes provides students with revision notes prepared by their peers. 

SPIFFY: How does ZNotes make the world a more equitable place? 

Zubair: The ZNotes mantra; education is a right, not a privilege. Our core offering is intrinsically aligned to the accessibility of quality education (UN SDG4), locked in our articles of association - the educational content will always be freely accessible to all students. Educational inequalities have always been profound, but this has been exacerbated by Covid-19. ZNotes Live, our latest offering, seeks to create an interactive revision experience through live masterclasses.

SPIFFY: What is a recent milestone you’ve reached with ZNotes?

Zubair: Our most recent milestone was being selected as one of 77 communities across 6 regions to participate in the Facebook Community Accelerator program. Additionally, through organic growth and word of mouth, the website has surpassed 20 million hits, reaching over 3 million unique visitors. We’ve had more than 100 students from across the world build resources for 6 different exam boards which have been discovered in far-reaching places like libraries in low-income schools in Nigeria.

SPIFFY: Congratulations! Failure is a big part of being a student and being a founder. Tell me about how you’ve learned from it.

Zubair: For me, rejection is redirection. For the longest of periods, I aimed to study maths at Oxford. Without any support from my school in pursuing Further Maths or the specific admissions test, I pushed myself to independently study for those exams. Even after all that, I didn’t make it. Yet the experience gave me the strength to continue my math studies up to Master’s level – and ending up in the melting pot of London gave me the perfect space to grow.

SPIFFY: What’s something unexpected that you’ve learned recently?

Zubair: Hosting a recent podcast episode for The Tomato Timer, my guest shared a really interesting way of managing your time - the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule. The rule suggests that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. So for example, in a to-do list of ten items, two of them will be worth more than the other eight put together. So when starting a task, ask yourself: is this task in the top 20% of my activities or in the bottom 80%?

SPIFFY: Your guests sound really knowledgeable, I’ll give it a listen on my next flight! Thanks for your time Zubair.

Zubair: They sure are, I feel honored to get to talk to them. Catch you soon Spiffy.

Founder of ZNotes, podcast host at The Tomato Timer, and completing my Master’s in mathematics at UCL. Passionate about a sustainable world, I hold ambassadorial roles for the One Young World, STEM UK, and IMPACTR. I am a super outdoors person, a streak and marathon runner, inline and figure skater, and love wild swimming! (Zubair was nominated for Spiffy’s Interview by One Young World)