Scoodle founder Ismail Jeilani
Faced with £9,000 ($11,200) tuition fees Ismail Jeilani decided to work as a personal tutor rather than taking out a loan. In little more than a year, he made enough to cover the cost of his entire degree, teaching economics for up to 20 hours a week, and creating small classes of 10 students.
“I didn’t think it was fair that I had to choose between what I held closely to myself and my right to education,” he says. “And I felt that anybody who’s in that position should definitely be able to do both.”
“I also saw first hand how a tutor can shape the future of students.”
Jeilani wanted to give other students the chance to tutor too, and set up Scoodle, a tutoring platform with thousands of teachers from some of the UK’s best institution – Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and more. After closing a $760,000 pre-seed round from Biz Stone and joining University of Oxford’s accelerator Oxford Foundry, Scoodle now boasts 100,000 users.
Scoodle works by offering a platform for would-be students to ask any question on any subject. Tutors can then “show off” their knowledge by posting the answer, which is public for anyone to see. Users then have the option to book the tutor for lessons.
The Scoodle Q&A board
As digital learning is becoming increasingly normal, it’s not unusual for students to have Skype lessons from teachers on the other side of the world, or to focus on a few questions rather than an entire hour of tuition, Jeilani explains.
After creating their profile, tutors can showcase their talents by posting answers to users’ questions, a little like the Q&A platform Quora.
The global tutoring market is worth around $200 billion and Jeilani observes there are “a lot of small and medium players” leading to the market becoming fragmented.
In the UK, companies like tutorful, tutorhunt and MyTutor are dominating, but Jeilani says Scoodle’s differentiator is a focus on the personal brand of the tutor, with a 0% commission model.
“We want educators to have millions of followers. Tutors are content creators. They are constantly making amazing resources for students.
“Linkedin has created a professional identity. Facebook has created a social identity. Scoodle will create a teaching identity.
“They deserve to be recognized.”
Jeilani hopes to bring those who have something they want to learn together with those who have something they can teach. “Teachers are superstars, and they bring so much value to the lives of students. But the best teachers are not always accessible. We’re building a world where an Arabic expert living in Egypt can create a class with students from around the world.
“The content that our teachers create on Scoodle lives forever. This will continue to benefit other students, long after the classes have ended.”
As for Jeilani’s ambition: “In five years, we’ll make the Kim Kardashians of education.”