New website matchmakes parents with home tutors
Team of five did research for 11 months before creating Yodaa
Tutors advertising their services online are a dime a dozen, but their quality is often a mystery.
A new website aims to give parents and students a one-stop solution to finding tutors who have been well-reviewed.
The idea for Yodaa, which was launched in July last year, came after its founder, Mr Samuel Huang, discovered that 70 per cent of parents he spoke to relied on word of mouth to find tutors for their children.
The name Yodaa is a reference to Star Wars character Yoda and a play on the Hebrew word yada, which means to know.
"We realised that in the tuition industry - especially for something home-based - a lot of parents were going on forums or to friends and colleagues for recommendations," said Mr Huang, 28, a business and finance graduate of the National University of Singapore.
"So we wanted to find out if we could organically bring word of mouth online."
Yodaa offers tuition services for students from Primary 1 to junior college and has tutors who teach a wide range of subjects, from Chinese Literature to Design and Technology.
When a parent logs on to the site, he or she will be asked to provide a description of their child's tuition needs, such as how regularly they want their classes and the subject they wish to be tutored in, and also where they go to school.
Within 24 hours, parents will receive five custom quotes which include tutors' personal messages, references, price estimate and contact details.
Yodaa now has 80 to 100 parents visiting the site a month and a database of 3,000 tutors.
It took the team of five 11 months of research before they wrote a single line of code.
"We went on the ground - community centres, libraries and anywhere we could find parents. We asked parents about the issues they faced, their thoughts about the education system," said Mr Huang.
The team cold-called about 500 tutors and invited suitable ones to join Yodaa.
The business has been self-funded by the team and is free for both parents and tutors.
Mr Huang said: "For parents, this service will remain free.
"We're looking at several potential revenue streams, but implementation will come only when repeated value has been proven and studied in greater detail."
Two out of three students here have tuition
In Singapore, 45 per cent of all students attend one-on-one private lessons.
According to a study conducted by Singapore-based research agency Blackbox in 2014, two out of three children have tuition (one-on-one and group), and 70 per cent of parents spend more than $200 monthly on tuition for each child.
Of the 500 parents polled, 40 per cent voiced their apprehension about inadequate coverage in school.
Besides private lessons, 75 per cent of students also attend group classes.
And the number of tuition centres are growing - there are 600 tuition centres registered with the Ministry of Education, as compared to 500 in 2011, The Straits Times reported last October.
This is more than the total number of primary and secondary schools combined.
The tuition industry here is estimated to be worth over a billion dollars annually. This is almost double the $650 million spent on it in 2004.