Since the advent of VoIP, countless edtech startups have tried to leverage the technology to build learning platforms that connect learners and teachers from across the world. Most of these early startups are long gone but thanks to faster Internet connections, better hardware, new protocols like WebRTC and video calls entering the mainstream, live video lessons have seen a renaissance.
ClassDo is one of those new startups aiming to build a global marketplace for lessons of all kind. Based in Tokyo but with an international team, ClassDo has attracted users from all continents mainly through word of mouth.
Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.
ClassDo enables teachers and students from 100+ countries to discover each other, for live face-to-face online lessons.
While many education solutions are single country or single region, ClassDo truly removes all country and currency barriers – It provides seamless payments among teachers and students worldwide by unifying disparate currencies into one global standard of “lesson credits”, multilingual support, and also supporting low bandwidth countries for video chatting and book sharing without any software installation.
ClassDo is also part of the very disruptive “Sharing economy” movement. In the same way that Uber allows people to share their cars without being part of a taxi company and AirBnB allows people to share their homes without working for a real estate firm, ClassDo allows teachers to set up their own online without being hired by a school.
Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.
Chiew Farn Chung – CEO
Brief profile : Wrote first program at age 13, represented Singapore for International Computer Programming Competition at age 15.
More than 10 years of business/tech experience at Japanese manufacturers and top tier global investment banks.
Edward Middleton – CTO
Brief profile : President of the Tokyo Linux Users Group since 2007. Open source contributor. Expert in scaling large server architectures.
Yee Whye Teh – CSO (Chief Scientific Officer – Algorithms)
Brief profile : Professor of Statistical Machine Learning at Oxford University. Research papers quoted 7000 times according to Google Scholar.
Edward & Chiew have both been members of the Tokyo Linux Users Group for more than a decade. Yee Whye & Chiew have been schoolmates since 13 years old.
What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.
3 problems :
- You cannot find someone with the relevant knowledge around you
ClassDo allows you unfettered access to any teacher/knowledge across 100+ countries. Timezones are automatically converted for you, and you don’t have to worry about payments in a foreign currency.
- Too narrow a definition of “online education”
Education is not just about STEM subjects or languages. It’s knowledge – a local indonesian who advise you on the best homestay experience, a chef who can advise you on how to open a Japanese restaurant, someone who can help you publish your first book etc.
- No tech skills or too much administrative work
ClassDo is designed based on the “it just works” mantra. No installation needed. Searching, Booking, Classrooms and Payments are all integrated and automated – just concentrate on the lesson.
In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.
ClassDo’s users are not concentrated in any single region but instead distributed evenly across all five major continents.
North America (19%), South America (9%), Europe (16%), East Asia (25%), South East Asia (18%), Africa (4%), and Middle East (8%).
Who is your target audience.
Students – who are seeking knowledge, but cannot find a suitable teacher around them. Or cannot be bothered to search on badly done individual pages/forums/blogs around the web for someone.
Teachers – who want to offer their knowledge globally, not just to students around them. But has no technical skills to set up their own online school, or cannot handle the admin work involved in global payments.
On ClassDo, a user can be both a student and a teacher – learning something new while teaching something they have expertise on.
How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.
Each user have their own “portal” – their very own online school. For example user “Kirsten”‘s portal will be http://kirsten.class.do
Teachers – invite them to set up their own online school on the ClassDo platform
Students – allow them to discover all these online schools that teachers have set up.
What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.
Teachers do not pay any fees or commissions.
Students buy credits to take paid lessons. The more credits they buy at a time, the cheaper each credit costs.
ClassDo earns a small amount to run servers when students purchase credits.
If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.
Completely bootstrapped at this point. Since inception, we make a profit for every paid lesson.
Some world-class investors have gotten in touch with us. We are very interested in finding a good partner to grow.
Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.
- 80% of ClassDo’s users are via word of mouth.
- We grew to 100+ countries since launching 19 months ago. We were actually caught by surprise and had to scramble to cope with the growth.
- ClassDo staff speaks 12 different languages.
- We got ClassDo’s video chat technology to work in developing countries. Teachers in Kenya for example, are earning money from the developed world by offering their knowledge, without having to leave the country to become a migrant worker.
What are the next steps in growing your startup.
Enable more teachers and students around the world to discover each other.