In SBO Quick Word, business owners and professionals share with us a slice of their industry, business and life over a quick email interview.
What motivated you to start Tutopiya?
I realised the options for teaching live online were limited and hence embarked on developing my own live online tuition solution.
We established Tutopiya in April 2018 in Singapore.
Tutopiya started from a student’s simple request to have online tuition as he was boarded at Marlborough College in Malaysia. At that time, I was a full-time tutor and his mother reached out to me to teach him maths online. Initially, I taught him using Skype on my phone while handwriting formulae on paper because with a subject like math, it is not that easy to type out complex formulae quickly.
I was keen to provide an effective live online tutoring experience and started doing my research for better alternatives which led me to found Tutopiya. I realised the options for teaching live online were limited and hence embarked on developing my own live online tuition solution.
As a parent and a tutor, I realised the limitations and inconveniences both parties face where home tuition is concerned and aimed to find the best solution for both.
As a parent, it is difficult to gauge your child’s progress. Our online classroom has lesson-recording capabilities and we provide unlimited access to these lesson recordings for students’ revision and parental monitoring. Parents may watch each lesson replay at their own convenience so they can gauge for themselves how each class is progressing.
As a tutor, I had to regularly travel to students’ home and usually spent at least an hour of valuable time travelling for a single lesson. With Tutopiya, commuting is not required from either side. This entices customers to want to try it out given the significant time savings.
There is a need for a service like Tutopiya, because there is a gap in the market for online one-to-one tutoring.
Do you think women are at a disadvantage in the startup scene? If so, how do you overcome this?
I have been blessed to have not faced any disadvantages in the start-up scene as yet, but I definitely feel I stand out as women are a minority among the founders in the startup scene.
Gender aside, it is our perseverance, drive and ambition that defines our success…
I am aware that much of the ecosystem which supports the startup scene is very male-dominated. Women’s networks suffer because women tend to be more conscious of work-life balance and bear a greater share of child-care responsibility.
However, women have their strengths and we need to focus on these. It is important that we identify our strengths and believe in our potential. Women are very good at multitasking and this is crucial in the early stages of growth for a start-up when your team is small or in some cases, only yourself!
Gender aside, it is our perseverance, drive and ambition that defines our success, so we have to focus on these attributes to prove that we are as capable of achieving targets and fast-paced growth in the startup scene.
How do you juggle start-up life and family?
Yes, being a mumpreneur definitely has its challenges! I continue to strive to find a work-life balance. I took a career break from being a financial consultant to spend more time with my kids, which unexpectedly led me to become an entrepreneur.
The pros of entrepreneurship for a mum are many – predominantly flexibility.
The pros of entrepreneurship for a mum are many – predominantly flexibility. I work on the go anytime, anywhere – at home, in parks, play areas between school trips, sick days and even sports days! It is a difficult juggling act as the lines between work and home are blurred but it has worked for me.
Having been a tutor yourself, will you be teaching your children personally or engaging a tutor to teach them? Why?
I currently teach my children certain subjects where I have teaching experience and expertise – maths notably. I do engage tutors for subjects that I am not confident or not proficient, especially languages like Chinese. Most parents find it a big struggle to teach their own children and it is the same from my experience. As a child, I greatly benefitted from being taught by some very talented and experienced tutors who had the ability to motivate, inspire and transform my learning. Therefore, I wish the same for my children, especially subjects where I do not have the knowledge or teaching experience. I will not think twice about engaging a good tutor who is able to do so.
Tuition is a business, but not many tutors go in with that idea in mind. Apart from being a good educator, what does it take for them to run a successful tuition business?
[Tutors] have to evolve from an educator’s mindset to a business mindset which is a very big shift.
It takes perseverance, drive and entrepreneurial flair. You have to evolve from an educator’s mindset to a business mindset which is a very big shift. My drive and passion were rooted in being able to teach many more students and empower many tutors through Tutopiya than I could achieve by simply teaching by myself.
Where is the private education scene heading?
The private education scene is going digital. We understand that children are raised in a digital world and require a media-rich learning environment as well as the best features and functionality to hold their attention.
Parents are generally sceptical when it comes to the use of digital technologies. However, today’s students are digital natives. They take to online learning more comfortably and appreciate the value generated and the time saved. The introductory trial lessons provided by Tutopiya are meant to alleviate these reservations in the parents and often help demonstrate that the online one-to-one sessions are more interactive and effective.
Online learning is also a positive utilisation of screen time that enables responsible digital learners.
What’s next for Tutopiya?
We have had a very positive response thus far with many students continuing with us for the long term. We have over two hundred students from both local and international schools. We also have signups from seven other markets including China, UAE, Australia and the United States which are natural growth markets for us.
In the near future, we plan to focus our growth at home in Singapore. As our platform does not restrict us to any single market and we have had early success in these overseas markets, we are keen to focus on overseas expansions in the next phase of growth by promoting the high education standards of Singapore to the rest of the world.
Are you a business owner or a professional? Connect with us if you’d like to share some business lessons and professional insights.