TECHNOLOGY

Solve a School Problem in 10 Minutes? Check out This Vietnamese App

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics students, you’re welcome

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BY Tricia V. Morente - 09 Mar 2017

school app

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

When GotIt!’s Vietnamese founder and CEO Hung Tran got into the private tutorial business as a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at the University of Iowa to earn a few extra bucks, he had no idea he was on to something big.

“At that time I was a tutor helping students in Math and Computer Science,” says Tran. Because it turned out that a lot of students needed help in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), it got to a point where Tran did not have enough time to help everyone. “I had friends in other universities looking for students to tutor, so I decided to connect students and teachers using Skype and had them pay each other thru Paypal,” he shares.

The set-up worked, prompting Tran to co-build a web marketplace that connected students and tutors. Called Tutor Universe, the platform became very well-received that it attracted angel investors and a grant from the state of Iowa. With the global private tutorial business estimated to become a $102 billion market by 2018, as reported by Forbes, Tran has since elevated his vision—“to build an on-demand platform for knowledge”—and moved the company to Silicon Valley.

And so Tran’s GotIt! app was born. The technology connects “anyone with a hard question” to a vetted expert. By the time 10 minutes is up, “the expert has helped the asker find the explanation to his/her question.”

 

Agile growth

As with most start-ups, GotIt!’s team is quite lean. What started with only him and his co-founder Peter Relan in the U.S., and a couple of developers in Vietnam, has grown into a modest-sized 42-strong company that packs a pretty mean punch.

With its “on-demand, instant STEM help at an affordable price” unique selling proposition, GotIt! is redefining the multi-billion dollar academic tutorial market. It’s generated over $10 million in funding from Silicon Valley investors, and as of early 2016 became among the top 10 most downloaded education apps on Apple’s App Store in the United States.

Its 4.4 rating comes as no surprise, as the app’s simple interface makes it user-friendly. “People usually resort to two ways to find answers to their questions. First, Google; and second, community-based places like Quora, Stack Exchange, Yahoo Answers, and the like. But if your question is too broad or too specific, you end up getting no results at all. You end up wasting your time. Our mission is to fix all these,” explains Tran, adding that all a learner needs to do is send a photo of his/her question, and GotIt!’s algorithm immediately connects him to an expert for a 10-minute chat session.

 

Democratizing the private tutorial market

With over two million “got it!” moments as of press time, it’s safe to say Tran’s got a very satisfied user base. But perhaps more important than helping students figure out answers to STEM’s biggest problems is that GotIt! is democratizing the global tutorial market.

Currently, over 40,000 experts from across the world—including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore—are earning as much as $400 dollars each month on the app, answering questions in the fields of math, chemistry, and physics. “All during their free time,” says Tran. “Everybody has many 10-minute moments throughout the day that you don’t know what to do with. So while on the bus or riding a train, you can log on to GotIt! to work and make use of those 10 minute moments,” he adds.

Remove all notions that becoming a GotIt! expert is easy, though. Tran is serious in providing the highest quality service and spends a lot of time building the processes to recruit the best possible experts. “To be eligible to work on GotIt!, experts have to first pass the product and policy tests, then pass the knowledge tests on subjects they want to be experts at. We’re constantly monitoring their performance and auditing their work results, as well as provide frequent training to make sure they can deliver high quality chat sessions,” explains Tran. Any experts violating the rules? “They will be banned for life,” he says.

These days, the GotIt! team is busy building on the app’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. “We believe AI is very far from fully autonomous, but it can be very helpful to assist humans in improving productivity and quality,” shares Tran, adding that GotIt! has “a very robust platform with advanced algorithms for ranking experts and routing questions to relevant experts.”