In 2007, Cameron Schmidt travelled from house to house on a 50cc scooter to tutor students in his neighbourhood. Seeing the potential to help students with additional subjects and younger school students, the business expanded and Scooter Tutor was born.
Scooter Tutor is an online platform that matches students with tutors. The platform offers students and tutors a service that makes the tutoring process easy and safe.
“From that point forward, Cam decided to do things differently,” Scooter Tutor’s co-founder and Director Sam Robertson said.
“At Scooter Tutor, we individually screen and vet every tutor prior to employment. For the last couple of years, we’ve been applying everything that we’ve learnt from the tuition industry to make Scooter Tutor what it is today.
“We’ve taken the best parts of a tutoring marketplace and combined them with the safety and guarantees that come with traditional agencies.”
Recognising that major tutor offerings in the market didn’t offer parents the quality assurance they need while offering flexibility for tutors, Scooter Tutor set out making this its point of difference.
“We built Scooter Tutor to make things as easy and safe as possible for parents and students, while also enabling tutors to work to their own timetable,” Mr Robertson said.
While the Scooter Tutor team knew the strength in their business offering, building the company hasn’t been without its challenges.
“The biggest challenge for us is marketing. As both of our backgrounds are in engineering, we tend to focus on building things,” Mr Robertson said.
“We’re lucky that we’ve been able to build a product that has an immediate need, which has allowed it to grow organically, but all of the marketing buzzwords are fairly new to us – so it’s difficult to separate the information from the noise.”
With a strong academic grounding, Robertson and Schmidt both draw inspiration through researching and analysing other market players.
“We’re both academics at heart, so we like to do lots of research into other organisations, economic analysis (marketplace models are extremely interesting) and successful startups who are making an impact around the world,” said Mr Robertson.
“There’s lots happening in the technology and education space today, so there’s no shortage of sources for inspiration!”
Apart from overcoming challenges around the Scooter Tutor team’s core skills, Mr Schmidt and Mr Robertson have been setting up systems and processes to ensure efficient scalability. Mr Robertson said a large part of this effort had been focused on automation.
“The most important thing when it comes to scalability is ensuring that traditionally repetitive and admin-heavy tasks are automated,” he said.
“This has been a focus of Scooter Tutor since the beginning, and has allowed us to grow extremely fast. Since launching the full platform at the start of 2016, we have been doubling in size every 3 months, and there’s no sign of this slowing down.”
And it’s not just the systems and work towards scalability that has helped Scooter Tutor with its growth, the team has enjoyed growing the business in Brisbane as the startup ecosystem continues to grow and develop at a rapid pace.
“We have been blown away by the depth of the startup community here in Brisbane,” Mr Robertson said.
“There’s a group of fantastic incubators and supporters, and a huge network of businesses who are all doing great things. We think we’ll see some very cool things coming out of Brisbane startups in the coming years.
“It has been exciting to see the attention startups and innovation have been getting over the past couple of years, both in the public and private sectors.
“The implementation of programs by the government and businesses alike is really starting to drive people like us to have a go at that idea that’s been sitting in the back of our mind.”
In terms of having a go at progressing business ideas, it’s something Mr Robertson said he would definitely tell his younger self to do.
“It’s the most cliché thing ever, but I’d be telling my younger self to just jump in and do it,” he said.
“You don’t need to quit your job or your degree to make a start with anything – simply put pen on paper and make a start.
“You’ll be surprised how much you can achieve once you just get the ball rolling. I’d throw in a little reminder that everything takes longer and costs more than you expect, so be prepared for that.”
With growth and scalability at the top of Scooter Tutor’s priority list, the team is working on expanding to other areas of Australia.
“We’re currently in the process of launching in Sydney and Melbourne, so we’re looking for lots of tutors,” Mr Robertson said.
Scooter Tutor is planning to expand the business across Australia at the start of 2017 and then to Asia, as the team’s first overseas expansion, due to the opportunity in the region.