When I first got to hear about this start-up, I exclaimed “for real?” Embattled by the obvious challenge of bandwidth and inconsistent internet connectivity, it would have taken courage for Fehintolu Olaogun and Peter Ogedengbe the co-founders of Nigeria’s Massive Online Courseware, Tutor.ng, to feel that something like this can work in Nigeria. But they are making in work. The founding team consists of members of the board and management of Exolve Technologies Limited, the core technical partners for the project.
Tutor.ng is basically an online learning platform designed to make education accessible and engaging to Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, with online courses, meetups, tutorials, and virtual live classes. In basic terms, anyone can be a teacher or a learner of virtually anything without going to a physical school but a school on the internet. It was inspired by a dire desire in the co-founders to improve education and learning; not just formal education but also soft skills, those skills that are necessary for innovation and invention.
Unlike conventional schooling, Tutor.ng targets anyone willing to learn. As a matter of fact, there is no prerequisite other than being able to see a computer screen, touch a keyboard and hold a mouse. Tutor.ng is also different from other foreign counterparts like Coursera, Alison etc in that the peculiar problem of developing economies like Nigeria was factored in the development of the technology as well as operating a mobile optimized version for minimal data consumption. Tutor.ng also allows anyone to create content that can be shared with learners either free or with a fee.
The Nigerian tech space is not an easy ride, tutor.ng has had a fair share of challenges, Fehintolu says “the challenge has been with getting tutors to create good content without assistance. Using e-learning to teach is new to a lot of people in Nigeria and most of them still need assistance of some sort.” To solve this, they have been helping tutors with the content and organizing workshops to enlighten tutors and people interested in teaching online on using e-learning tools. Another workshop will hold in May and it will be free.
Tutor.ng is a little in-between being personally bootstrapped and venture-capitalist funded. It’s funded by Exolve Technologies which is a technology solutions company.
Commenting on the Nigerian Tech space especially on the health of StartUps, Fehintolu frankly replies “More talk than work in my opinion. There’s a lot to solve in this country, we have so many issues education is just one. It takes a lot of hard work to surmount these challenges and I think there is still a lot of work to be done in product delivery generally. There are a few IT companies which are doing well but for the startups I think more work than talk should be put in.” In the future, Tutor.ng aspires to continually help improve education in the country and Africa and give all it takes to make it work.
His widow’s mite for start-ups: “I think I need more advice than I have to give. My advice is this though, do 90% work and 10% talk because in the end your work can and will speak for you and learn to delay gratification.”