Australian startup snapshot: WeTeachMe

WeTeachMe is a Melbourne startup that has designed a website that matches experts who want to teach to students, automating much of the administration involved in running a course.

The pitch

“It’s really about empowering people who have expert knowledge to share it and be rewarded for it,” WeTeachMe co-founder Kym Huynh told Techworld Australia.

One origami teacher on WeTeachMe has generated $2000 to $3000 for each one-hour class she has organised through the website, he said. The teacher is a university student herself and sends some of the money she makes back to her family in Vietnam, he said.

WeTeachMe also sells its service to businesses or organisations that run many events or courses. “There’s ways we can make them more efficient or optimised.”

One business customer, Cupcake Central, used to spend about 14 hours per week doing administration work for its cupcake baking classes, Huynh said. With WeTeachMe, the workload has been reduced to about 15 minutes. In addition, Cupcake Central is now offering more courses and making 400 per cent more revenue that it was previously, he said.

WeTeachMe charges a monthly subscription, with a basic package costing $99. The rate increases based on the amount of revenue brought in by the classes.

Huynh said the company ensures the quality of classes offered by personally vetting the person or group offering the course. He said the startup is also looking to AirBNB and other startups with similar business models as role models.

Funding it

The four founders of WeTeachMe completely bootstrapped the startup. “We launched WeTeachMe on a budget of, I think, $386.50.”

“Then we realised, you know what, we actually need money to build the platform a bit more, and develop and refine it and make it beautiful.”

WeTeachMe raised about $20,000 doing events in Melbourne and Sydney called “speed teaching,” a sort of speed dating between experts and students.

The startup has not taken any outside investment, though it has received offers, Huynh said. “We’re at the point where we’re realising we can grow from our own revenues and our own customers. I think that’s a powerful position to be in because we can keep our vision intact.”

Selling it

WeTeachMe launched in December last year. Hyunh said the initial hope was that the customers would show up on their own, but when that didn’t happen the company took to the phones and scheduled coffee meetings with potential clients.

Once people saw the potential value of the service, they were quick to sign up, he said. Now, nearly a year later, WeTeachMe is increasingly finding customers through word of mouth, he said.

Since launch, the website has listed 10,000 courses Australia wide. That number is growing 20 to 40 per cent per month and the startup expects to reach more than 16,000 by year end, he said. It has sold about 20,000 to 30,000 tickets to the courses, he said.

“We focus purely on the supply side of WeTeachMe,” he said. However, in the next six months, the startup plans to expand its marketing to increase demand from potential students, he said.

While WeTeachMe offers classes in multiple Australian cities, the startup has focussed most of its attention on its home base of Melbourne, and 90 per cent of the classes are there, he said. However, the startup has recently sent one of its co-founders to Brisbane to work on expanding business there, he said.

Startup scene

Hyunh had high praise for the Melbourne startup scene. “I believe we’re in a very exciting boom stage here.”

Compared to two years ago, there are many more startups, co-working spaces and events for startups, he said. Venture capital availability has also improved, he said.

“There’s a lot of support here. People are always happy to have a coffee and advise and mentor and guide.”

However, Hyunh said he wished there were a greater number of experienced startups with success stories to learn from. “The major difference in Silicon Valley is there are a lot more people who have done what I want to do.”

The WeTeachMe co-founders travelled to Silicon Valley to learn from and network with other startups there, Hyunh said. He said it was “an incredibly energising experience.”

However, while the startup seeks to expand its service abroad, Hyunh said he plans to keep the company headquarters in Australia.

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