SA’s SkillUp Tutors spins out digital meeting platform room.sh

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South African ed-tech startup SkillUp Tutors has announced a free-to-use open beta programme for spin-off company room.sh, a one-click connect meeting platform.

The Cape Town-based SkillUp offers parents and students across South Africa access to thousands of highly skilled and vetted tutors based on grades, subject, location, and budget.

The startup – which secured a Series A funding round from Knife Capital in April of last year – launched Lessonspace, a collaborative whiteboard for teaching online, in January. Chief executive officer (CEO) Matthew Henshall said room.sh extended this technology to service anyone wanting to have any kind of online meeting.

room.sh, which spins out with the same team and shareholders as SkillUp, is a one-click connect meeting platform that combines collaborative tools, such as shared digital whiteboards, documents and code editors, with traditional video conferencing capabilities.

“It’s a bit hard to explain without trying it out, but try to think of it as Zoom meets Google Docs,” said Henshall.

The scaling of SkillUp was pivotal in coming up with the idea for room.sh, he said.

“While we were growing SkillUp, we realised that taking lessons online was a growing trend with our users. Tutors on our platform were using a mix of existing tools like Skype and Google Docs to conduct lessons, but there was still too much friction. We wanted to create a more seamless experience for them to conduct online lessons,” said Henshall.

“We tried some off-the-shelf software, but we didn’t find anything that had the power and flexibility that we were really looking for. Given our team’s strong software development background, we eventually decided to build our own solution from the ground up. During the development process, we quickly realised the potential for this tool to be used for online meetings.”

SkillUp subsequently spun out the core software into a standalone product, which has already seen over 10,000 hours of use, largely in education on SkillUp and similar platforms and internal company meetings of early private beta users. It is now available to any individual, team or company for free during the open beta, with pricing to be announced during the official launch in a couple of months’ time.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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