We talked to Khalid Abou Kassem of AlGooru about the demand for online tutoring in the Middle East, and he had this to say.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded AlGooru.
Khalid Abou Kassem: Earlier in 2016, I returned to my university after a 2-year drop-out caused by a potential family business I was working on along with my father in Saudi Arabia. Upon my return, I decided to offer tutoring services to several college peers and benefit from the extra bucks. This service eventually grew, and my demand surpassed the daily number of hours I could supply. Hence, I started referring my students to friends who I knew had the qualified knowledge to tutor others. Fast-forward to 2018, I was inspired by the growing network of tutors/students and my undergraduate studies in the field of entrepreneurship. I realized that the private tutoring market in the Middle East was highly chaotic, lacked any transparency, and required a platform to organize it. As such, a centralized-community of tutors was necessarily needed to help facilitate the match-making process between students and educators. And so, along with a growing team, we decided to build a mobile application to attain the vision of becoming the premier academic companion to students in the MENA region.
How does AlGooru innovate?
Khalid Abou Kassem: Our mobile application is uberizing the tutoring industry.
We’re allowing students (or their parents) to find on-demand tutors that meet their needs instantaneously by using various in-app features like comparing different tutor profiles and hourly rates, chatting with the tutors, scheduling the sessions both online/offline, making cashless payments, in addition to other features.
On the other end, we consider ourselves to be a management-solution provider for tutors. On our platform, we offer them the ability to organize their sessions and services, price their own rates freely without charging them anything, set their own convenient schedules, rate their students’ performance, as well as enjoy the use of other features.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Khalid Abou Kassem: In the beginning, COVID drastically affected our business as all the academic institutions closed their doors for weeks and months before turning online. This reflected a radical decline in the demand for tutoring before it surged back up after schools and universities shifted their teachings online. The true challenge was coping with this online shift, as all of our sessions used to be physical in the pre-COVID world. Our product team instantly managed to integrate an online solution and substitute the physical sessions with online ones. Hence, students can now book a tutor on our app and attend their sessions seamlessly online, keeping both our students and tutors socially distanced and safe.
Did AlGooru face any other challenges during 2020?
Khalid Abou Kassem: The year 2020 has been globally overwhelming.
And while we don’t brag about being blessed enough to have sustained our startup to-date, we feel proud of the accomplishments and milestones we achieved amidst the unfortunate circumstances that have been daunting Lebanon, where our primary operations have always been based. COVID was only part of the challenges that we had to overcome during this year. Other problems that followed the Lebanese revolution included the economic instability, the devaluation of the Lebanese currency, inflation, the decrease in consumers’ purchasing power, and of course, the recent Beirut blast.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Khalid Abou Kassem: We have great competitors in the edtech sphere in the MENA region. Some of which are highly successful, while others are less fortunate. Our plan is to become price leaders of the tutoring industry. We’re on the path to attaining this title by developing a value-based pricing model that optimizes the tutoring rates on our app, making us the only tutoring app that offers affordable rates while planning to cooperate with our competitors to ensure the enhancement of the academic lifestyle of students.
Your final thoughts?
Khalid Abou Kassem: Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field. We’ve been continuously learning since the age of 4, and our growing generation is always eager to learn and further develop in the fields they become passionate about. And because learning is so vital, we sometimes require complementing support to help us boost our understanding of a specific course or subject. And this is the mission of AlGooru, while we work to build knowledge-sharing communities within academic societies.