Tueetor founder Tan Han Sing spills the beans on the growth of edtech and why social impact mindset is key for new-age startup founders
Bringing the uber tactic to teaching, Singapore-based Tueetor matches learners and trainers based on a set of pre-defined criteria: subject, academic level, qualification, teaching experience, rate/budget; preferred time and location.
Father of two, founder Tan Han Sing dropped everything he was doing in 2014 to devote all of his time and savings to build Tueetor, simply driven a friend’s (and single mother) tutor woes for her child. Focusing on the private tuition market, his edtech company aims to address two pain points many parents face in their children’s education: affordability and accessibility. In 2016, iGroup invested US$1.48 million in Tueetor to expand to other markets in Southeast Asia.
Tueetor is currently operating actively in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. While Singapore has a lower language barrier and faster speed-to-market, future growth is expected to come from markets such as China and India. A strong belief system in “educating the next” and the high-value of college education, are some of the reasons why Tueetor is confident they can scale in these markets.
When asked about Tueetor’s plans for the future, Tan was quick to add, “It’s not so much about the personal or organisational goal, but a national one. You see, most Singaporeans (like me) grow up with one or more foreigner-classmates. They make huge sacrifices to come here, in the hope of a better life for them and their families’ through Singapore-style education, which is renowned worldwide. However, for every foreigner-student that makes it here, there are a lot more who are unable to. It’s just too expensive – tuition fees, living costs, etc. So, why not take our education to these students instead?”
Their answer is the virtual classroom and video-on-demand modules ready for launch in the first half of 2020. Singaporean-trainers will be able to export their knowledge, for the first time, through live and recorded teaching contents worldwide. This carries long-term benefits, not just in enriching per capita income and GDP, but fostering greater understanding between the people of the nations.
You seem to be driven by social change. What are your thoughts on social-impact startups?
Genuine impact investments are few and far between. Even lesser are impact investors that recognise a good social-impact startup. There’s a general perception that startups are more driven in delivering their causes than profits; the projects are not sexy enough in terms of returns. Unknown to many, behind every successful + sustainable startup, you will often find elements of community wellbeing creation. From ride-hailing companies promoting employment to patient/eldercare businesses providing health and physical wellbeing to edtech creating affordable and accessible education. There are huge opportunities in the social-impact startup scene.
Why is it important for entrepreneurs to have a social impact mindset?
Empathy. It allows entrepreneurs to better appreciate pain points; identify workable solutions and implement them with care. In other words: serve its customers and markets better. The same empathy extends inwards too, helping entrepreneurs recognise the strength and weakness of co-workers and current circumstance, allowing them to lead effectively.
Would you say Edtech is still in its early stages of booming? Why?
In 2018, the estimated global advertising market size is US$600 billion, AI: US$10 billion, and biotechnology: US$400 billion. Recorded VC investments in these industries are US$ 7b, 9b and 12b, respectively. Education stands at US$6 trillion and is poised to hit 10 trillion in 2030, fuelled by a global population of 8.5 billion by then. Notwithstanding, it managed only to attract a modest investment of US$6 billion – a huge disconnect – with over 50% of it going to China edtech startups. That said, it was still twice of 2017, and the strong numbers in 2019 so far has suggested that things are warming up.