Snapask, an on-demand tutoring app, announced today that it has raised $ 35 million in Series B funds. The round was led by Asia Partners and Intervest and was intended for the expansion of the startup in Southeast Asia.
Snapask was founded in Hong Kong five years ago has now raised a total of $ 50 million and operates in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. Other investors included Kejora Ventures, Ondine Capital and SOSV Chinaccelerator (Snapask participated in its accelerator program).
Founder and CEO Timothy Yu said Snapask will expand to Vietnam and focus on markets in Southeast Asia where there is high demand for tutoring and other private education services. It will also open a regional headquarters in Singapore and develop video content and analytics products for its platform.
The company now has a total of 3 million students, of which 1.3 million have been registered in the past 12 months (including a recent increase that Yu attributes to students studying at home after COVID-19-related school cancellations). Last year, 100,000 tutors applied, so Snapask currently has 350,000 applicants.
Yu says over 2 million questions are asked by students on the platform each month, with each subscriber typically asking about 60 questions per month during tutoring sessions that last between 15 and 20 minutes. The majority or about two thirds of the questions relate to mathematical and scientific topics.
One thing all Snapask markets have in common is competitive public exams for admission to top universities, Yu says. The exams have both positive and negative effects on education, he adds.
“The students have a very clear goal of what topics to study, which drives a very lucrative tutoring market. But I think Snapask focuses on the importance of exams, but you should do it right. It's about self-directed learning. It is not necessary to attend three-hour classes every day after school. If you need specific help with a question, you can request it immediately. "
During his studies, Yu worked as a math tutor and sometimes commuted a total of two hours to sessions that lasted just as long. In markets such as Malaysia or Indonesia, many educators chose to work in major cities, so students in rural areas had fewer opportunities. Snapask's goal is to solve these problems and connect tutors with more students.
Yu said the average time it takes students to contact a tutor after asking a question is about 15 to 20 minutes. This is possible due to the technology based on machine learning, which suits them depending on the style of education, subject and availability. Snapask's matching algorithms are also based on how students interact with tutors (e.g., when they respond better to precise or longer, more detailed answers). Students can also select up to 15 to 20 tutors for their favorites list, which will be prioritized during the comparison.
According to Yu, Snapask checks the tutors based on their credentials and the results of the public exams. They then go through a trial period on the platform to evaluate how they interact with the students. The platform also keeps track of how many messages are sent during a tutoring session and response times to ensure that tutors explain students' questions rather than just giving them the answers.
The tutors can talk to up to 10 students simultaneously via the Snapask platform. Yu says Snapask tutors in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea who spend about two hours a day answering questions typically earn about $ 1,200 a month, while those who work about four to five hours a day earn about 4,000 can earn up to $ 5,000 a month. The company uses different pricing models in Southeast Asian markets, and according to Yu, tutors can earn about 50% to 60% more than traditional tutoring jobs.
Other learning apps aimed at students who are in the same markets as Snapask are ManyTutors and Mathpresso, whose products combine tutoring with tools that allow students to upload math questions that are then scanned with optical character recognition get instant answers. According to Yu, Snapask focuses on one-to-one tuition because he wants to differentiate himself by creating a “holistic experience”.
"A lot of students come to Snapask after using OCR tools. We know that users do surveys, but they can't do certain steps." You still need someone to help you understand what's going on, ”he says. "That is why we try not to use technology for every component in the classroom, but to make it more efficient and scalable, and we create a holistic experience to differentiate ourselves."