Scoodle, a U.K.-based startup that, in its own words, wants to help tutors become influencers, is disclosing $760,000 in pre-seed funding.
Backing the round is Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, alongside Tiny VC, IFG Ventures and a number of unnamed angels. Scoodle is also the first edtech company to join the University of Oxford’s accelerator, Oxford Foundry.
Launched in late 2018, Scoodle might be thought of as Quora-meets-tutoring. The platforms lets students post questions which tutors are then invited to answer as a way of boosting their reputation and influence, from which they can generate more tutoring work.
Tutors can also create a comprehensive profile and share learning resources as a further way of demonstrating their expertise. And, crucially, take tutor bookings.
Co-founder and CEO Ismail Jeilani, who most recently worked at Google, says the idea was born from his own experience tutoring so that he could save up for university and avoid taking out a student loan.
“It’s difficult to find good tutors, because parents don’t know what to look for,” he tells me. “We solve this with a content-driven approach. Our tutors share content like learning resources on their profiles, which parents get to view before booking a lesson. Through this approach, tutors begin to develop their own brands, like ‘an educator’s LinkedIn’”.
Scoodle says it hosts thousands of tutors from the U.K.’s best educational institutions, including the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and others.
Perhaps, most noteworthy, Scoodle is operating like a content-led marketplace for tutor bookings but doesn’t currently charge a booking fee.
Having grown to 100,000 users across mobile and web, the startup instead has introduced a subscription model: tutors pay £10 per month for boosted listings, and the company claims this secures tutors up to 30 times more enquiries.
Similarly, there is also a subscription option for students whereby anybody can book, message and access tutor content for free, but a higher tier Scoodle Pro membership lets you ask questions directly to tutors for a more on-demand service.
“It’s very common that a student discovers Scoodle on the back of a Google search,” adds Jeilani. “When they view an answer, they also see other answers from that tutor, along with how many students they’ve helped. This helps create trust”.
In the U.K., the tutoring space includes companies like Tutorful, Tutorhunt and myTutor, but remains fragmented. Jeilani argues that Scoodle’s key differentiator is its focus on tutor branding driven by content.
“Unique content gives us a different user acquisition channel along with long term defensibility,” he says. “This tutor-focussed approach also means we’re the first to have a 0% commission model. This keeps tutors on our platform longer than anywhere else”.