Egyptians are no strangers to the tutoring phenomenon with private lessons devouring more than 20% of household spending according to conservative estimates. Although tutoring, if practiced responsibly, can have a tremendously positive impact on a child’s academic performance, it has unfortunately become a get-rich quick scheme for many. Exorbitantly high hourly rates, overcrowded classrooms, run-down facilities and poor quality tutors plague the industry. To make matters worse, a lot of so-called tutors actually teach their tutees in school which, aside from being illegal, creates an obvious conflict of interest.
In keeping with its strategy of investing in real products for real people that help solve real problems. A15, the leading technology investor, continues its strategic investments with an investment in Tutorama, an online marketplace connecting parents and students with great tutors in their area.
Tutorama hopes to change and ultimately disrupt the Egyptian private lessons market with its curated tutoring marketplace by exclusively recruiting top-performing university students and recent graduates. These top-performing tutors undergo a grueling screening and assessment process during which both their technical competence as well as teaching ability are put to the test.
Parents and students can use the platform to search for handpicked tutors by subject or location, view profiles and reviews, schedule sessions, manage billing and track academic progress. Sessions either take place at the student’s home or at pre-approved public locations.
Co-founders Omar Khashaba and Mohamed Khodeir both used to tutor on the side while studying at university, Khashaba in London and Khodeir in Toronto. “We saw amazing turnaround stories with kids who were previously labeled slow or incapable all of a sudden performing at the very top of their class. And it was all because they had some minor gaps in their knowledge that had accumulated up over time but that no one had really bothered to identify. Once those gaps were addressed the students drastically improved. Our aim is to disrupt traditional tutoring and, in a sense, to regulate an unregulated industry.”
“A15 believes in the importance of education for youth everywhere and its appeal as an investment sector. Tuturoma is a scalable solution that leverages technology to solve fundamental problems in education. It was a natural fit for A15 and a great point of entry into the edtech space,” said A15’s CEO, Fadi Antaki. “First and foremost though, the team is really what attracted us. We always say we invest in people not ideas and this is us practicing what we preach. We think this is a great team that will go on to do great things and we want to be a part of that journey,” he added. “Our added-value will mainly go towards helping Tutorama grow as a digital business. That’s what we know how to do. They’ll also get access to A15’s regional presence and support network to help them grow from startup into a $100M company.”
Both founders have first-hand experience in education entrepreneurship. Omar, a graduate of the London School of Economics and Cornell University with degrees in law, returned to Egypt in 2014 to start Top Choice Admissions (TCA), an admissions consulting and test prep company in Cairo connecting students with top university alumni. TCA was Egypt’s first mover in this space and is now the market leader.
Mohamed studied Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Toronto and previously co-founded a learning management startup in Canada. He’s an avid enthusiast of Machine Learning and a regular competitor in Data Science competitions.
Tutorama gained regional recognition recently after winning first place at both the 2016 MITEF Arab Startup Competition as well as Seedstars Egypt. “I think what gives us an edge over pretty much anyone else in the market is domain expertise. We understand every aspect of the business, from attracting and retaining top tutoring talent and creating the right incentive structure to running an effective operation with all of the logistical bells and whistles that that entails,” said Khashaba.
Tutorama is launching with a closed pilot for students and parents who registered on the website during pre-launch period. “We want to make sure we deliver a world-class customer experience,” said Khashaba, “and that’s why we’ve opted to start with a restricted pool of clients, perfect our product and process and gradually open up to more and more people. People can still register on our website and join our contact list which will ensure they receive priority as we make the service available to more people.” Added Khashaba.