sofatutor is a Berlin-based startup in the private tuition space that I have had on my radar for at least two years. I did not have the chance to interview one of the founders yet, but I hope to fix that very soon to show you a bit more what is going on in online education beyond the US that are for obvious reasons rather dominant.
After two and a half years sofatutor relaunched the service with a complete overhaul of the site. To give you a short summary, sofatutor launched in April 2009 with an online video platform that enabled tutors to upload and sell short lessons on a variety of topics for students in school and university.
What caught my eye was the unique business model. Students pay a flatrate fee per month and can watch as many video lessons as they like. The tutors are getting paid according to the total of views their videos received.
For example: a student pays 9 Euros per month. sofatutor takes its commission which I think are about 25%. The remaining 7 Euros are then divided by the number of videos the student watched that month. To keep it simple, let’s say he watched ten videos. This means that one view is worth 70 Euro Cent. Finally those 70 Cent per view are then paid out to the tutors who uploaded the videos. A tutor whose videos were watched five times by the student would get 3,50 Euros and so on.
It’s one of the healthiest business models in education I came across so far and the video library offers more than 5300 videos at present day. One key advantage for tutors is that as soon as someone watches a video, they will earn money. It might not be a lot but as students pay the flatrate price anyway, they are of course far more open to explore the library and give lessons and tutors at least a try.
Which brings us to the overall quality of the videos. From the start the sofatutor team did a great job in educating its content providers about how to shoot a good video lesson. They made tutorials about lighting, camera angle, methodology etc., something I usually missed with other providers in that space. This training let to some very decent video lessons but with the relaunch of the service the sofatutor team decided that this was not enough.
Hence sofatutor launched an equivalent to the Etsy Labs, just for tutoring videos. Tutors are now invited to visit the sofatutor film set which provides them with all the necessary video equipment and material to shoot “the perfect” tutoring video. Along with that they receive feedback and advice on methodology, copyright and even speech coaching. The initial studio setup enables sofatutor to produce 150 videos per week. Certainly, tutors interested needed to travel to Berlin but in the end that’s doable to most people as Germany isn’t that big, and doing so shows dedication and determination, I guess.
sofatutor also provides tutors with a synopsis for all the core subjects students want to learn on the platform. This way the service wants to make sure to cover all topics in a structured and familiar way, similar to the textbooks students use in class. The service also added a live element to its video platform. Students have the possibility to start a live chat with math tutors after watching a video lesson.
Last but not least, students, parents or teachers can now test drive the service by choosing one or more of the topics sofatutor is offering. They are prompted to a selection of videos to get a better idea of the range and quality of the video lessons.