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 2011 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.”