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Sigma Nu Alumni Revolutionize the Test Prep Market with New Company, Achievable

Tyler York (Carnegie Mellon) (left) and Justin Pincar (Carnegie Mellon) (right) have a goal to change the way people learn.

Whether it’s students in classrooms or adults in the workplace, the Delta Sigma Chapter alumni are focused on the finish line.

“We want to make conquering any exam a straightforward process that anyone can follow,” said Tyler York, co-founder and CEO. “We believe anyone can reach their goals, and we’ve built the platform to facilitate that success.”

In 2016, Tyler and Justin co-founded Achievable to fill the gaps they believe has impacted education for decades: motivation and engagement.

“When it comes to test preparation, current options are inefficient, offering little in the way of motivation or customization of curriculum,” said Justin Pincar, co-founder and CTO. “We built Achievable to address these issues.”

Achievable provides a platform that creates a personalized learning experience and prepares users for exams ranging from industry-required certifications and licensing to college and graduate school entrance exams.

Since its launch in 2016, Achievable has been well received in the marketplace. Recently EduReviewer website listed Achievable among the top three test prep programs available in the markets it serves.

Adding Benefit to Online Learning

While online learning was revolutionary for education - especially during the pandemic - York said it also struggles with low engagement and accountability.

“[Marketers] are happy to sell you a test prep course, but after that you’re on your own, they don’t guide you through the process,” he said. “This is where we saw an opportunity to build a truly effective learning platform.”

York describes Achievable as a “digital personal trainer” providing personalized guidance, support, and metrics matched to the needs of the individual.

Achievable’s initial focus was a test preparation platform for the challenging FINRA Series 7 exam, hosted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Passing FINRA exams is essential in pursuing a career in finance and wealth management.

“We wrote our own content for the course and built a program that dramatically improved the customer’s memory of the materials, which increases their exam scores,” York said.

Learning Japanese and a New Direction

Prior to co-founding Achievable, Pincar spent several years as a software engineer at Google and other tech companies before leaving to pursue his passion of improving education through technology.

He was an early entrant into the emerging field, working as an engineering leader and product architect at multiple edtech startups.

In his spare time, he was learning Japanese.

“It was through my Japanese language studies and work in the edtech field that I saw the power of adaptive learning,” Pincar said. “Specifically [I was drawn to] a memory-based method called spaced repetition.”

The technique involves reviewing and recalling information at deliberately spaced intervals until the information is trained into your memory. The technique, said Pincar, helps your brain remember more information, keeps materials fresh and promotes active recall of information.

Having experienced this memory method firsthand, Pincar saw an opportunity to take this testing process to the masses.

“I reached out to Tyler to explore building a new product and company,” said Pincar, who had worked on several businesses with York while in college. “We started Achievable and brought that vision to life.”

Navigating the Crossroads

In 2018, FINRA created an SIE exam for anyone looking for a career in wealth management. Achievable hit a speed bump. While comparable to the previous Series 7 exam, the SIE was a new exam, and required a new study program.

“We faced a challenging decision to either shut down the company or start over and build a new version of Achievable focused on the direct-to-consumer opportunity with the FINRA SIE,” explains York.

The two opted for the latter, rebuilding the entire product from the ground up to include a full textbook, spaced repetition-backed review questions for memory retention, and full-length practice exams.

Achievable introduced their new FINRA SIE course in 2019 to positive reviews and market reception, and the company was back on track.

Pincar and York set to work building courses for five other FINRA exams, along with test prep programs for the GRE (graduate school admission), USMLE Step 1 (medical licensing), ACT (college admission), and the American Mathematics Competition exams in middle and high school.

York said Achievable differentiates itself from other test prep offerings by providing support after the sale, delivering a personalized approach, and instilling confidence users are ready for the exams.

“The result is students complete our courses almost twice as fast as the competition with better outcomes,” York said. He noted the first-time pass rate for individuals using Achievable for the FINRA is an industry-leading 98%, versus the 70% national average.

“Achievable’ s courses are now some of the most reputable and effective courses in the market we serve,” York said. “We’re growing market share, adding new markets, and looking forward to what the future holds.”

A Partnership Forged Through Sigma Nu

York and Pincar first met at the Sigma Nu house at Carnegie Mellon University where they became fast friends and roommates. They shared a love of entrepreneurship and business.

“Our time at Sigma Nu taught us how to work together towards a common goal, manage a team, create and execute complex projects, and resolve differences with grace and understanding,” York said.

In earlier years they collaborated on three startups, including a website for food delivery which was somewhat successful before being “crushed” by a better-funded competitor. Although they went their separate ways after those experiences, they kept in contact and on alert for an opportunity to work together again.

When Pincar had the inspiration for Achievable in 2016, he contacted York and they joined forces to build the company. The two are “yin and yang” at Achievable, with Pincar responsible for technology, production and operations, and York managing sales and marketing.

The two agree their focus on collaboration and consensus is rooted in their experiences within Sigma Nu.

“Achievable exists in its current form today because of the relationship we formed while in Sigma Nu,” said York. “We will always be grateful for our time at Sigma Nu’s Delta Sigma Chapter and the profound impact it has had - and continues to have - in our lives.”

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