Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Sam Robertson and Cameron Schmidt, co-CEOs of online tutoring platform Scooter Tutor.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
The aim of Scooter Tutor is to connect students with qualified and vetted tutors in the most efficient way possible. To do this, we developed a platform that allows families to find and book a home tutor instantly, and manage all of their future lessons online. After growing from 20 to 250 tutors in only 18 months, we realised there was broader application for our tech, so we now allow other organisations to license the platform to manage their own workforce.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We initially developed the platform as a side project whilst working fulltime, and self-funded everything in the early days. After seeing some great traction in Brisbane, we raised a small amount of capital from friends and family towards the end of 2015. We used this to see if we could grow a little faster, and after doubling in size in about 3 months, we were able to secure additional investment to launch into Sydney and Melbourne last year. Tutoring is huge right across the APAC region, so we’re looking to raise additional investment to expand throughout Australia and then into Asia.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
Our two biggest points of difference are that we actually employ all of our tutors, and each tutor can be booked instantly based on their availability. Most online tutor marketplaces use contractors, and don’t have the greatest up-front quality processes. We screen and personally interview each of our tutors, so we know we’re connecting students with the best tutors in Australia. The ability to book a face-to-face lesson really doesn’t exist in the tutoring space yet, so we think this give parents and students added flexibility when trying to find a great tutor.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
I think our biggest challenge is finding the best marketing channels to connect with our customers. We’ve got a great team of developers and support staff, but marketing isn’t our strong suit. We’ve experimented with Google, Facebook, radio, print, and mail drops, and have been lucky to continue our growth across them all; but we still think there’s big room for improvement on this front.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
This would, without a doubt, be Slack. We have an internal team of 6 now, and I can’t even imagine how much of a nightmare running the business would be if we were still trying to send emails for everything!
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
We’re lucky to have some great investors and advisors who give us tips and tricks all the time; I’d say the best advice was to learn from others, but take an opportunity when YOU know it’s right. Look at a whole range of other companies for inspiration when it comes to tech, marketing and design, but at the end of the day, business opportunities that present themselves are unique to your situation – you are the only one who knows if it’s the right or wrong thing to do.
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