Whether we’re searching for the nearest restaurant, beauty outlet, or even a driving instructor, it’s become a societal expectation that it will be possible to book online. The same applies for services in education, with platforms like Connect Education, TutorBee, Tutor2you and YourTutor allowing parents to book tutors online for their kids.
Also in the tutor booking space is Scooter Tutor, a traditional bricks-and-mortar tutoring service which expanded its offering online after seeing limitations in how far and fast the business would be able to expand.
Now, the startup is looking to grow its reach again, by expanding the management system “prototype” used by Scooter Tutor to instantly connect customers to a tutor’s profile.
Building out the model, the startup has developed Icosian, an online booking system which connects customers, service providers and internal support teams together.
Using the system, the Scooter Tutor team is aiming to help bring bricks-and-mortar services online, licensing the platform through a monthly fee which is calculated based on the volume of bookings made.
According to Scooter Tutor and Icosian’s cofounder, Sam Robertson, the idea to expand came quite early on, once cofounder Cameron Schmidt realised the limitations of the Scooter Tutor model.
“[He] realised…that Scooter Tutor couldn’t achieve significant scale while we were trying to be the physical middle-man for every single booking or transaction. He then developed the system that allowed us to employ over 250 tutors across Australia, with a very small support team. That prototype platform was up and running in late 2015, but we’ve been tweaking it ever since, and have used it to guide our plans for the full Icosian platform,” explained Robertson.
With a few rounds of capital backing Scooter Tutor, the pair were able to fund the development of Icosian, a platform now containing additional features such as performance reporting, which can be viewed through a customisable data dashboard.
Seeing businesses in the healthcare space as an area ripe for disruption, the startup was pointed in the direction of Adapt Health Care, an allied health service focusing on home care in Queensland, which would become the first customer to leverage the Icosian platform.
“They employ physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists, psychologists, dieticians, and many other types of allied health service providers. The majority of their workforce are employed, however they also engage contractors to support the growing demand for their services,” Robertson explained
Discussing the backstory around how the business was introduced to Adapt Health, Robertson said it came from a mix of luck and investor support.
“It was a combination of having a great group of investors who provided introductions for us, but we were also lucky to be tutoring a child of an aged care executive, who also saw the potential in the platform. From there, we worked through the operational details of their business, and realised that our platform could provide many needed solutions for them,” he recounted.
Operating similar to the Scooter Tutor platform, the Icosian system allows users on Adapt Health Care to search based on their location and service requirements, before drawing back results of health professionals who are available.
Besides booking, both users and service providers are able to monitor service activity, attach notes and files, and leave feedback on user profiles using a rating system.
Also in the home care space are a lineup of ‘care’ startups including Careseekers, Home Care Heroes, Seeva and myCSN, which focus on connecting seniors with in-home carers and health services, often connecting with services registered under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
With the boom of these online home care startups, Robertson said the sector has become increasingly competitive, pushing traditional bricks-and-mortar services to look at digitising their offerings to remain relevant.
“The home care industry in Australia is much bigger than tutoring, however many businesses struggle with similar problems to what we’ve been facing in the tutoring space. The deregulation of the home care industry will increase competition in the sector, and it will mean that providers need to think about their existing systems and processes in order to stay competitive,” he said.
“Our platform enabled Scooter Tutor to employ hundreds of tutors across Australia with a very small internal support team, so we hope the platform can help allied health providers to achieve scale whilst still providing great services and support to their customers.”
With Adapt Health having received contracts to expand its services outside of Queensland, Robertson said he will be working beside them to update the Icosian system. Meanwhile, the cofounders will look to juggle both of their startups, with a focus on growing the Icosian platform.
Image: Cameron Schmidt & Sam Robertson. Source: Supplied.