With tutoring centres popping up on every third corner and every second university student now tutoring high school kids ‘on the side’, the tutoring space is certainly a booming, competitive market.
Among the ever-increasing number of tutoring offerings is Scooter Tutor, a once-traditional offline tutoring service that has shifted to the online space.
Using the platform, parents are able to find qualified tutors across a range of grades and subjects and book them for an at-home tutoring session.
The startup’s name and inception emerged from cofounder Cameron Schmidt expanding his “riding around on a scooter” tutoring service into a wider network nearly 10 years ago.
According to his cofounder Sam Robertson, however, Schmidt quickly noticed that operating a traditional bricks and mortar business would limit how far and fast it was able to expand.
“Really early on he realised that if he wanted to progress from 10 or 20 tutors to anything larger, it wouldn’t really work using any of the solutions in the market. There were issues like dealing with massive amounts of scheduling and payroll, and also with crowds of parents booking in appointments with tutors,” said Robertson.
Robertson added that offline solutions posed issues for tutors themselves too, who were forced to network with clients over the phone to book or discuss appointments. Looking to streamline the entire tutoring process, the startup sought to take the best pieces of the traditional tutoring model online.
This, according to Robertson, came in the form of offering a service where the tutor would travel to parents, who themselves would know with confidence that they were being served with a high quality educator.
Going online would also ease the entire process for tutors, who would be able to “sit back and wait” once they had been accepted as a ‘scooter tutor’ and tied to the platform.
“It’s really trying to combine the best pieces of all those sides of the market, so it’s beneficial for stakeholders on both sides,” said Robertson.
To ensure a high quality of tutor, Robertson explained that the startup “hires” each educator in a casual position, a process which requires all of the usual filtering and background checks involved in traditional employment.
“It’s a full job application, so a submission of CV, photo ID, academic transcripts and a Working with Children check. We then have a group video interview, where we go around and talk to each person and see which candidates have a good level of communication. We’ll also check references too when applicable,” explained Robertson.
Each hired tutor is able to select the location and range they wish to operate in, as well as the subjects and grades they’re looking to teach. With a focus on grades one to 12, Robertson said the business has tutors spanning across a substantial lineup of subjects, with Mathematics, Science and English the most in demand.
For tutors with knowledge beyond secondary and primary education, however, Robertson said Scooter Tutor supports tertiary and other smaller areas of learning too, such as training on how to use the Microsoft Office Suite.
Since the platform doesn’t offer a search option, but instead drop-down categories, however, finding a tutor to teach an out-of-the-box subject requires a call to the Scooter Tutor helpline, which operates most of the day.
“We realised very quickly that we also needed a personal touch, so we looked into how we could combine that with tech so our users would have both options. The helpline was the answer to that,” said Robertson.
Robertson added that the helpline can be accessed for other enquires, or for general booking services. Otherwise, all bookings for a tutoring service are made online, as the platform generates a list of tutor profiles for the user to select after a search is made on the home page.
Bookings are completed online too, with the startup taking a booking fee for each transaction, with the rest of the funds going to the tutor. At the end of a session, tutors can also be rated out of five stars, with their total score displayed on their profile.
Looking at other competitors in the online tutor booking space, Scooter Tutor’s search-online or call-us-for-help model draws similarities to platforms such as Global Education Academy and NSW startup YourTutor, who both also display a tutor’s profile online for selection.
To give the startup an edge over its competitors and begin to serve regional communities, Robertson said Scooter Tutor is currently looking at developing its own online video platform to deliver lessons to those outside the startup’s range of operation, which is currently focused on Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.
“We really do want to be able to service students in the remote areas. A lot of kids, once they finish school and go to uni, move to one of our major cities, meaning those regional towns lose a lot of their talented students and thus tutors. We’re looking into a video service to aid this issue where our city tutors can deliver a lesson over video chat,” said Robertson.
Having raised some seed funding to cover early development, the startup later moved to raising an additional round of approximate $700,000, which Robertson said will help build the Scooter Tutor team and get the platform “exactly where it needs to be”.
Robertson added that growing the tutor and client base would also be a key focus for the startup, with the aim of hitting 1,000 total tutors by the end of the year in mind.