South African startup SkillUp Tutors, a web-based platform that helps parents and students find and schedule lessons with tutors in their area, thinks it has an edge in what is becoming a busy space.
Launched in January of last year and operating in beta until January of this year, SkillUp Tutors currently specialises in high school mathematics, science and languages, but also has a number of university and junior school students using its system.
SkillUp Tutors matches students and tutors. Tutors throughout South Africa sign up and go through a rigorous application process. Students or parents of students can access a list of tutors in their area depending on their subject-level requirements.
Co-founder Matthew Henshall told Disrupt Africa the startup had a strong desire to make education inspiring for students and teachers.
“This is the fourth company I have started in the ed-tech space, and SkillUp is an accumulation of the learnings from those,” he said.
“The private tutoring industry is highly fragmented and inefficient. We are making tutoring more affordable, by radically reducing our service fee and offering a more transparent service, while ensuring the highest quality and safety.”
Henshall says SkillUp is able to reach the entire spectrum of the market by allowing tutors to set their own price.
“Most importantly to us, we empower the tutor by enabling direct student-tutor communication on the website,” he said.
The online tutoring space in South Africa is a busy one, with the likes of Tuta-Me and Cognition.Online already operating. But Henshall thinks SkillUp is a cut above the competition and can offer service others cannot.
“We have drastically cut the industry standard service fees, this means tutoring is more affordable, and our tutors are able to earn more. We allow tutors to set their own hourly rate, which means we can add value to the full spectrum of the market,” he said.
“Most importantly, we have removed the hassle of the middleman from student-tutor conversations, while upholding the standard of service. Our platform allows you to find and talk to tutors directly, and schedule and pay for lessons with your chosen tutor.”
SkillUp is a self-funded startup, which takes a service fee off each lesson. Henshall says this fee is half that of its competitors, but tutors earn more the more lessons the teach.
“We really are trying to make a tool for tutors to use,” he said.
So far, so good, it seems. Not only have more than 1,500 tutors from around the country gone through its application process in the last couple of months, SkillUp last year reached the capacity its beta version could handle.
“This year, with our new product, we have seen great uptake as the year gets off to a start. We are doubling our numbers month-on-month. We are on track with our projections, but are still far from our major goals,” Henshall said.
“Our service is scaling very well, the only difficulties have been effectively reaching our customers and showing them we are not just another tutoring agency.”
The startup currently only operates in the private tutoring market in South Africa, targeting people looking for private tutors.
“We have some plans in the near future to expand into new markets as well as move up and down the education value chain,” said Henshall.