Ever felt like you need a tutor? – EdTech Unicorns Blog series part 2

Written by: Jairo Liberato

 

[…] perhaps you are doing alright but wanted that extra bit that would help you excel? We got your back. Call 1-800-TutoringEdTechUnicorns and we will be right with you.

 

Do you feel like the classes you are taking don’t prepare you for your dream career? Or perhaps you are doing alright but wanted that extra bit that would help you excel? We got your back. Call 1-800-TutoringEdTechUnicorns and we will be right with you.

 

In all seriousness, mentors and tutors play an important role beyond the educational context. Both terms usually apply to someone that helps and guides outside of the normal “learning” experiences. This blog, the second in the d EdTech Unicorns series, will talk about those unicorns that focus on tutoring.

 

Tutoring Deep-dive
These unicorns focus on Tutoring services for students in K-12 or university study programs. The main offerings consist of live tutoring sessions with experts through their platforms and they complement these services with study guides, resources, practice exercises, and qualification exams. Tutoring EdTech unicorns, as mentioned in part one of this blog series, are Yuanfudao, ByJu’s, Zuoyebang, Zhangmen, and Knowbox. This is the group where companies have the highest valuation, as Yuanfudao leads the EdTech unicorns valuation table at $15.5B, and Byju’s follows in a close second at $13B.

 

All the tutoring EdTech unicorns are from India and China. The reason why they were founded in these places specifically can be attributed to the large populations, heavy academic emphasis in recent years, and the fierce competition in terms of academic excellence […]

 

The oldest of this bunch is ByJu’s which was founded in 2011. All the tutoring EdTech unicorns are from India and China. The reason why they were founded in these places specifically can be attributed to the large populations, heavy academic emphasis in recent years, and the fierce competition in terms of academic excellence, where every little help can make the difference in order to access scholarships, jobs, etc. It is important to say that this competition happens everywhere, but given the population of China and India, as well as the cultural importance given to education, this phenomenon is exacerbated.

 

Why are they needed – What is the pain point they are trying to solve?
Why are these companies so valuable? Why are they so valuable given that tutoring services/mentorship programs have always been there? Tutoring and mentorship programs have been well established within educational institutions since their inception. However, university students know how frustrating it is to have to accommodate and wait for “Office Hours” in order to answer a simple question. What happens when there are no office hours? Or even worse, what about when the class is made up of 400 students and it’s all made of lectures? Or simply, what about when there are no tutors available due to geographical or time constraints?

 

These companies understood the pain point that every student has had at some specific point perfectly: the need for personalized assistance in the learning process that is available for the student at any point that it is needed, or that just simply fits their schedule. These companies offer personalized tutoring for students, not only filling the gaps in the content that was not clear during the lecture but also, providing specific resources and exercises to help them take their learning process to the next level. In addition to extra efforts, the tutoring unicorns wanted to make tutoring as personalized as possible, identifying the best match for tutors and support material according to the students’ needs.

 

Specifically, these are the following trends common to all of these unicorns that allow them to be successful at solving the aforementioned pain point.

 

  • The software companies are focused on a personal private tutor that helps each student individually.
  • Heavy use of IA/MachineLearning/ Data Analytics to place the student with the correct tutor.
  • Gamification in order to motivate students to learn more.
  • Adaptive learning that in this case, is focused on selecting the right tutor for the student. They use algorithms to recommend tutors and courses.
  • The tutor is then in charge of selecting exercises and materials to help the student.
  • The platforms are simple, attractive, and have easy-to-use software that is accessible on laptops and mobile devices. They offer an integrated video call tool, and all learning materials and practice exercises can be found within the platform.

 

What can we learn from the tutoring unicorns and their success?
The focus is on using algorithms and artificial intelligence to ensure a personalized learning experience is the most important take-away. The simple and easy-to-use interface has been key to maintain a large user base and ensure fidelity. Even more so, tutoring EdTech unicorns have transformed from only offering the live tutoring sessions to also developing content on their own to complement their service, they have managed to go full circle and offer a combo-deal that allows the student to get all of its solutions at one place. Finally, one must highlight that all Yuanfudao, Zuoyebang, Zhangmen, and Knowbox do not have any services in a language other than Chinese, nor they intend to expand into other languages in the near future; their target audience is so large that they have succeeded by focusing and specializing on that specific group.

 

The simple and easy-to-use interface has been key to maintain a large user base and ensure fidelity.

 

In a broader sense, these tutoring companies are exposing the educational systems that are currently in place. Their immense and growing user base of people looking for tutoring sessions shows how inadequate and insufficient “normal” classes are, to the point of having 400million people in a country seeking personalized tutoring sessions/help in order to succeed (This is solely Yuanfudao’s user base across their platforms). The immediacy and always-ready nature of technology complement learning and make it more adaptable. Learning is shifting towards adaptable experiences, as general content, and one size fits all models are leading students to seek services like the ones offered by tutoring EdTech companies.

 

That’s all for now folks. If you have any doubts at 2 am on your 8th-grade math questions, definitely don’t look for me, but go to one of these services. They will find someone that suits your learning style for sure and will teach you those things that you did not understand because your teacher was too busy trying to teach to the other 40 students in your class. In our next part, we will be looking at celebrities in the EdTech world: MOOCs.

 

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