SA’s Tuta-Me builds on #Hack.Jozi success with strong uptake

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South African startup Tuta-Me is having an impressive first year, having built on its success at the #Hack.Jozi Challenge in May by signing up more than 2,000 users.

Co-founded by Abed Tau and Dylan Hyslop in April 2015 and launched in March of this year, Tuta-Me is “Uber for tutoring”, a mobile app that allows students to identify, book and pay for vetted and qualified tutors.

The startup initially operated under the radar but came to the public’s attention at the #Hack.Jozi Challenge, a bootcamp for startup entrepreneurs run by the City of Johannesburg and the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University.

Tuta-me excelled during the competition, which was in its second year, and was eventually named first runner-up and awarded ZAR350,000 (US$25,000) in prize money. This cash, alongside some angel funding raised over the course of this year, has allowed the startup to quicken its rollout plans.

Tau told Disrupt Africa Tuta-Me has acquired more than 2,000 users since its launch, 700 of which are tutors, with usage increasing around examination time. Though there is competition in this space, he said the Tuta-Me app sets itself apart.

“There are many other tutoring companies in this country which have been operating for a variety of years. However, we are the only organisation that we know of that has an app version and allows students and parents to select their most suitable tutor,” Tau said.

“We imagine that eventually these tutoring companies will have an app too, but by then Tuta-Me will have more experience in this particular field.”

The app allows students to choose their desired location, subject and gender of tutor, with options then identified by the Tuta-Me platform. The student selects a tutor, and can make a booking through the app.

Tutors are required to send verification documents for the Tuta-Me vetting process, with approved tutors then available for booking through the platform. Tutors may set their own rates as well as available time slots and locations.

Tau was inspired to start an on-demand business by a visit to Silicon Valley, eventually teaming up with Hyslop to focus on introducing tech to the tutoring space.

“We noticed that nobody was using technology to connect tutors to students,” Hyslop said. “We also realised that other tutoring organisations take a huge chunk – 35-50 per cent – of the tutor’s rate, although the tutor does all the work. Tuta-Me takes the lowest commission fee that we know of.”

Tuta-Me’s charge is 20 per cent. Hyslop said the company was also playing a part in solving South Africa’s unemployment in South Africa by creating micro-entrepreneurs, while Tuta-Me also plans to provide free tutoring to underprivileged school children in Gauteng, and eventually across South Africa.

“We intend to do so by partnering with corporate companies and SMMEs to use their CSI and BEE money towards funding this free tutoring for underprivileged school children,” Hyslop said.

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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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