BY TOM JACKSON
Cameroonian startup Prepdia is helping learners improve their outcomes by reliably connecting them with professional tutors for in-person and online lessons.
Founded in 2019 and bootstrapped thus far, Prepdia was a platform born from founder Malieh Maxime’s own personal experiences after leaving school in 2015.
“I aspired to be an engineer but my parents told me they couldn’t afford it. I told my parents I would be able to take care of myself by tutoring others. I passed the engineering entrance exam and moved to Douala, but couldn’t find a home class to teach in the first year,” he said.
“The next year, my friend introduced me to a parent who needed a tutor. I was amazed at the joy and happiness the parent expressed in finding a tutor. That’s when I realised that while many passionate youths are looking for home classes to teach, parents are also finding difficulties in locating tutors.”
Yet there was no platform in existence putting these two types of people together.
“Learners and parents of these learners do not go online looking for tutors. It is not yet the case in Cameroon,” Maxime said.
“It is tough for learners and parents to find and connect with tutors. It even becomes more difficult if quality is a concern to the learner or parent. They have been dying for a hassle-free method to connect, learn and pay professional tutors. Tutors on the other hand are dying to share their knowledge and skills while making income in the process.”
He set out to fix the problem, and built Prepdia, which helps users quickly and efficiently connect with a vetted, reliable tutor in their local area. So far it has more than 2,000 tutors registered in Douala and Yaounde, and plans to expand to the rest of the country by September.
“Our biggest competitor is word of mouth. We acknowledge the presence of other startups tackling the same problem but as of now, there is no “big fish” yet in the market,” Maxime said.
Prepdia wants to be that “big fish”, and Maxime believes it stands apart from any rivals due to its tutor verification processes, automated payments platform, and willingness to follow-up to ensure teaching was of the highest quality.
“We follow up on students’ progress monthly by encouraging our tutors to do monthly assessments and also from the feedback of parents. The platform is simple enough for parents and tutors and handles everything from the booking of a tutor to payment of the tutor which is done online using our application. Parents and students can also rate tutors, which help other parents in choosing a tutor,” said Maxime.
“And finally, our unique customer service and strong guarantee of quality service contribute to keep us away from the crowd.”
Prepdia charges tutors between 10 and 20 per cent commission on any booking secured through its platform, and Maxime said revenues are increasing by 25 per cent month-on-month, as the startup works on overcoming any challenges.
“While we have difficulties in securing funds, our biggest challenge has been in getting both learners and tutors to use the platform,” he said. “Tutors hardly complete the onboarding process, and learners prefer to call. With the data we gathered after launch, we were able to make the onboarding process for both learners, parents and tutors an exceptional one.”