Wednesday, September 26

Tutoring tech Vygo raises $500k to reduce uni drop-out rates across Australia

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Vygo, a peer-to-peer university tutoring platform, has secured $500k pre-seed backing from prominent Aussie investors.
With the app already being used by 5000 students at Queensland and Victorian universities, the financing will be used to accelerate national expansion and further product development.
It includes investments from 13 entities including Larsen Ventures, River City Labs Accelerator, Telstra’s startup accelerator muru-D, Carl Hartmann and Mark Livings, as well as a $100k grant from the Queensland Government’s Ignite Ideas fund. This is the second round of investment from both River City Labs and muru-D, with both taking the opportunity to invest follow-on funding in addition to their initial investments.
The support from Larsen Ventures is a huge vote of confidence for the platform, with the health and education focused firm making the largest investment.
“The future of EdTech in Australia is very bright and we’re excited to be working with Vygo. We like the speed at which both Students and Universities have embraced Vygo and the proven outcomes of giving students affordable and timely access to the resources they need. We are keen to support their growth throughout Australia and beyond.” said Larsen Ventures Investment Director, Andrew Larsen.
Vygo works as a mobile marketplace that helps university students improve grades and confidence with easy access to affordable peer tutors, or make money between classes with a ready-made business.
It’s also a win for the participating institutions – with student drop-outs estimated to be costing Australian universities a total of $1.4 billion annually in lost fees, the app can help increase retention while providing insights on which courses students seek help for (The Hobsons Retention Project 2010).
Vygo was launched in 2017 by co-founders Ben Hallett, Joel Di Trapani and Steven Hastie. Having been tutors themselves, they had seen firsthand how difficult it could be for their friends and peers to get the specific academic support they needed.
“Traditional private tutoring is often expensive, inflexible and not class-specific, but with Vygo we’ve made it affordable and hyper-local,” said Co-Founder and CEO, Ben Hallett.
“Vygo tutors are students who have recently received top grades in the same class, with the same lecturer. They can set fees and availability that work for them, averaging around $25 an hour – that’s similar to a hospitality wage for the tutor, but less than half the price of typical market rates for the student seeking help.”
University of Queensland student Brooke McLay has been grateful for the flexibility of the system.
“When I’m stressed out with my course I can quickly get in contact with someone who has had my exact class and lecturer. They can fit in a session with me in between their own lectures,” she said.
Vygo began with a 16 week pilot (during which one tutor made $4000) at the University of Queensland in 2016, and now over 5,000 students across Queensland and Victoria have downloaded the app to date. Students have also reported a 22% increase in their grades as a direct result of using the platform (Vygo Survey, 2018).
The Vygo team are based in Brisbane, but can rapidly roll out the platform at new universities in any location and begin supporting students within two weeks.
“We’re very excited about the raise – being able to pitch the funding round at Myriad Festival was the perfect catalyst for investor interest,” said Hallett.
“It’s great to have great people supporting us and our vision, and I can’t wait to take Vygo further.”
Vygo is available to download from the Apple App store and Google Play store.
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Paul Towers is a passionate supporter of the Australian startup ecosystem and the Founder of Startup Soda. Originally, Startup Soda was solely a newsletter that helped curate the best content from the Australian startup community, more recently however it has turned into a media platform with the aim of improving coverage of Australian Startups, Founders and VC's.

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