The internet provides us with instant knowledge at the click of a button. MOOCs and edutech platforms – from the gamified Duolingo to video-chat lessons that put a virtual teacher in front of you – have taken online learning to the next level, but sometimes a computer or smartphone screen just can’t replace real human interaction.
LessonsGoWhere, which launched out of beta on July 30, offers an online marketplace where teachers and students can list, discover, and book offline lessons in Singapore. The online-to-offline concept isn’t necessarily a new one in the city-state – Learnemy has been offering such a service since 2012 and the now-defunct Kezaar made an attempt in 2012 – but LessonsGoWhere may already be ahead of the competition when it comes to sheer numbers.
A quick perusal of Learnemy’s site reveals approximately 60 teachers offering 10 classes. Another site called Skill Ministry, which Kezaar merged with, has 75 classes.
Ng E-Fei, LessonsGoWhere’s co-founder, tells Tech in Asia that his service already has more than 150 lesson providers offering over 700 different courses. Since the beta version of LessonsGoWhere went live in December 2013, the startup has sold more than S$60,000 (US$48,000) worth of lessons.
“We currently have 685 registered users in our database since we started collecting that data in May […] In July, we had about 293 active users who either signed up for our newsletter, booked a class, or registered interest,” E-Fei says. “We see about 12,000 unique monthly visitors and about 4,200 of them return.”
E-Fei says that the company researched more than 200 lesson categories and subcategories before landing on its current setup: four main categories (baking, cooking, music, and arts) with 17 subcategories (i.e. “arts” offers drawing, painting, calligraphy, etc.). A quick glance at the site shows a huge variety of classes being offered – from capoeira and hip-hop dance to playing the ukelele and making sausages. Listings are free, but LessonsGoWhere takes a 20 percent commission for each lesson booked through the site.
LessonsGoWhere received S$50,000 (US$40,000) via Singapore’s ACE startup grant (formerly known as the YES! grant) to get the ball rolling late last year. The company’s three co-founders also pumped in S$30,000 (US$24,000) of their own money.
The ACE scheme pays out in three waves, based on achieving milestones. E-Fei says that his startup has completed two of them, and that his short-term goal is to finish the third by mid-to-late September “so as to free up more capital for horizontal expansion in different verticals.”
As for longer-term goals, the co-founder is eyeing overseas expansion.
“We intend to expand the business to Hong Kong, Seoul, and Australia – Perth or Melbourne – by our second year,” E-Fei adds. “While we’ve yet to narrow it down to exactly which city we’ll enter first, we’re working on identifying key partners in those regions, as well as understanding the dynamics of the recreational education industry in those cities.”
Update: Elisha Tan, founder and CEO of Learnemy, reached out to us to clarify some points about her service. At present, Learnemy has 72 active instructors and 200 inactive instructors (active meaning those who can accept new students immediately). The site has 3,400 registered users and 125 are monthly active users. Tan adds that her service has matched more than 700 students to teachers.
Furthermore, Learnemy offers both private and group lessons. Tan explains:
With Learnemy, you can book an instructor to learn privately or join an existing class. That means that one instructor, say a tennis coach, can take a lot of private students in a day but your metric will present it as one instructor and zero classes.
While the Learnemy beta has been live since April 2012, the service didn’t launch publicly until May 2014.