Tech Pitch: LearnerLane

Winner of the Duke of York’s iDEA award, LearnerLane outlines its “match.com for tutoring service” and explains why London can be “distracting”

Company name: LearnerLane
Founders: Richard Oki (22), Seun Debiyi (22) and Tom Zabek (33)
Background: Oki and Debiyi both graduated from University in 2014. Oki holds a degree in Economics & Finance and Debiyi has a degree in Economics. Zabek is a self-taught programmer with over 15 years experience in developing web platforms.
Based in: Sheffield and London

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • “Match.com for in-person tutoring”.
  • LearnerLane is a marketplace that uses students learning styles, academic goals and target grades to recommend the best-fit private tutors for their specific needs.
  • We shortlist the best tutors for each individual student, thus eliminating time spent searching through dozens of tutor profiles and saving money usually wasted hiring the wrong tutors.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

The private tutoring industry is huge (£130bn globally), however the industry is currently monopolised by traditional tutoring agencies who have failed to adapt to the technological boom. Currently, parents who search for tutoring services online go to Google then land on a directory with hundreds of tutor profiles. They have to personally filter through several profiles before hiring a tutor, and in 70% of cases they don’t stick with this tutor in the long term.

LearnerLane solves this problem by asking parents and/or students to a take a personalised assessment to determine each student’s profile. Our technology leverages this data to create relevant and curated tutor listings, bespoke for each individual. We work in partnership with schools in order to firstly help qualified teachers earn some extra income. Secondly, through utilising these qualified teachers, LearnerLane is able to offer quality assured tutors to customers.

Are you funded?

We have raised circa £50,000 to date comprising of angel investment, debt finance and competition winnings (LearnerLane was among the winning entrepreneurs of iDEA 2015).

What were you doing before starting?

Richard Oki – I recently graduated from university with a degree in Economics & Finance. I co-founded a previous start-up at university where I led sales and growth.

Seun Debiyi – I graduated from university at the same time as OKi. I have previously worked as a freelance product designer, developing the online U/UX for several start-ups across the world.

Tom Zabek – I have been coding for the past 15 years. I led the engineering team at The Stage UK; the largest online theatre newspaper in the country.

What’s the best thing about where you’re based?

Our office in Sheffield allows us to knuckle down and concentrate during this crucial early stage of our business. It’s surprising how distracting London can be when you’re running a start-up. It’s easy to believe that having a million events at your fingertips is the best thing but in reality, our focus is solely on acquiring new customers and serving our current ones.

We do plan to move back to London in September, which will allow us to reach a much wider customer base and grow quickly.

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