Every week, the Soukie Speaks’ Club Courage series celebrates a brave entrepreneur in the Arab startup ecosystem, by sharing their story and the impact that their startup is having on the community. This week we interviewed Thea Myhrvold, Managing Director and Founder of TeachMeNow.
1) What does your startup do?
TeachMeNow.com is a global marketplace for online personalised learning. A sort of ebay for knowledge in real time. We have tutors, mentors, teachers, experts and ivy league graduates teach students around the world on a one-to-one basis. We have built our own virtual classrooms where students and teachers connect online, its like Skype but better, as we have the video and audio, but also real time document collaboration, whiteboards and more. We are also creating customised versions of this software and platform for other schools, institutes and academies to help them deliver live online classes and reach more students.
2) When did you launch TeachMeNow?
We launched version 1 in May 2015.
3) What is the size of the TeachMeNow team?
We are 10 full timers based in Dubai, plus we have part time ambassadors all around the world.
4) Why did you choose to start TeachMeNow in the UAE?
Being half Arabic, my goal has always been to be a part of the growth and development in the region. As a woman and a teacher, my dream is to contribute to world-wide educational reform, by breaking down barriers to learning and improving how we transfer and understand knowledge. I have lived in many different places, and for me it was important to start something in the Middle East, to challenge the status quo as a female entrepreneur. The region needs more positive stories, and we hope to be a part of that. Dubai is the best place for a start up in the region, and its a place where big dreams are born. What an exciting place to be!
5) What do you think are the biggest problems in education in the MENA region?
There are many in the world, not just in the MENA region. I think the biggest trend and demand is coming from the need to restructure schools and personalisation of education. This is a world-wide phenomenon where students are thirsty for a personalised approach
and not just a cookie cutter/one size fits all curriculum/approach. The regional issues are related to access to top resources or teachers. Another is access to top education, especially for girls and women. Making education accessible for all is core to the TeachMeNow belief.
6) How do you think that TeachMeNow is offering a solution?
We are offering a personalised solution for both teachers and students. Where the teachers are also incentivised. Traditionally, great teachers don’t see a reward for their work. At TeachMeNow, we let teachers shine. We also create access to top educators around the world through technology.
The global marketplace leverages global efficiency and utilises untapped resources for knowledge and skills – native speakers, stay at home moms and dads, recent graduates, etc. Our mission is to make education accessible while creating jobs on a global scale.
For schools, institutes and academies, we are helping them get online. We tailor the platform for their branding, logos, domain, teachers, business model, and more.
7) What are your future goals for TeachMeNow?
There are so many! Our biggest goal is to be the destination for virtual education, the Uber or Airbnb of learning and knowledge sharing. The largest accommodation website
(Airbnb) doesn’t own any property. Same with us, we are not a school and we are not
creating content or knowledge, we are making knowledge accessible through tech. That is key for us. We will have thousands of classes happening per day through our website and aim to be the largest online learning marketplace in the world in the next 5 years (or sooner!)
8) If money and contacts weren’t an issue, what kind of conference would you like to host, who would you invite to speak and what would be discussed?
I would love to host a type of TED conference, but focused on education and learning. I would invite leaders like Queen Rania, thought leaders like Sir Ken Robinson, business experts like Bill Gates and inspirational educators, as well as scientists and tech startups focused on education. The goal is to get all the leaders in different sectors to come together and share their innovative ideas on the future of education. The conference would be open to students as well as educators, as students should have a say in their education and how we shape the future of learning. The theme would be how to make learning and knowledge sharing accessible, practical and effective. How do we incentivise educators and how do we create environments optimised for learning? That would be amazing!
8) Where can readers go to learn more about TeachMeNow and your upcoming projects?
The TeachMeNow website will be re-launched in April, so make sure follow our social media for the latest updates:
Facebook : www.facebook.com/teachmenowpage
Linkedin: Teach Me Now
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