Categorized | Shoestring Startup

WeTeachMe, the Craigslist of Skills and Learning

WeTeachMe, the Craigslist of Skills and Learning

Global warming, increasing social tension, excessive waste, and the exploitation and destruction of the earth’s natural resources reached critical levels over the past five years.

As tensions reached crisis point, the world shifted towards a model of collaborative consumption; a phenomenon that, according to TIME is one of 10 ideas that will change the world, “describes the rapid explosion in tradition sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping reinvented through network technologies on a scale and in ways never possible before” (Collaborative Consumption Hub).

Where eBay and Craiglist left off (marketplaces), emerging tech startups such as Airbnb (peer-to-peer travel), TaskRabbit and ParkatmyHouse (marketplace nuevo) and now WeTeachMe pick up the collaborative-consumption torch to collectively lead us into a future world of sustainable, ethical and conscientious consumption.

So what is WeTeachMe? Earmarked by The Next Web as an Australian startup to keep your eye on, WeTeachMe is transforming the educational landscape as we know it by democratizing learning and putting the power of learning and teaching back into the hands of the common person. WeTeachMe’s job: facilitate the connection.

WeTeachMe and the Beginning of Democratized Learning

WeTeachMe began on April 1, 2011 at Melbourne’s Launch48 event. Says co-founder Martin Kemka, “Before Launch48 all I had was a concept that would receive nods every time I shared it with someone else and a bit of an airy dream. Launch48 was an irreplaceable opportunity to bring this thing to life. I can’t really describe the energy you get when 15 driven strangers giving up their weekend to collaborate on a concept.”

Why WeTeachMe is the Next Big Thing

Let’s say you were looking for an Italian tutor and didn’t know where to start looking. You’ve contacted your friends, scoured the local classifieds and still had no leads. Instead of throwing up your hands in desperation and giving up your quest for mastering the Italian language, WeTeachMe will make the local connection for you.

In it’s shortest form, WeTeachMe is a Craigslist for skills or a Meetup for teachers. According to co-founder Kym Huynh, “WeTeachMe connects everyday people who want to skill up and learn new things. The kicker is that all the learning takes place in the real world where the sense of smell, touch and sight play an integral role to the learning process.”

Members create their profiles and the learning and teaching loop starts immediately. All transactions are handled online and there are safety measures put in place to ensure transactions flow smoothly.

WeTeachMe also empowers people to start sharing their passions, provides resources for skill improvement, opportunities for exposure, and has an active, passionate and vibrant community ready to teach and learn new things.

Why You Should Keep Your Eyes on These Guys

WeTeachMe, the Craigslist of Skills and Learning

WeTeachMe’s founders believe with absolute certainty that investing in education is of paramount importance. Says co-founder Kym Huynh, “The proliferation of accessible tools combined with our own skills and knowledge, and of those around us, can be woven into an intricate network of intellectual capital that will have an incredible uplift effect.”

They also know that there are some things that can’t be stored or transferred online which us why we are connecting online and sharing in person.

According to co-founder Martin Kemka, “It’s about the idea that each and every single one of us is capable of far more than we know, and that we have the privilege and the responsibility of collectively leaving this world a better place than what we inherited; we think it can be absolutely rewarding to not only invest in our own education, but in the education of our peers and community by passing our knowledge and skills onto our friends, our family, and ultimately the generation(s) to come.”

So How did Team WeTeachMe Pull it Off?

WeTeachMe was bootstrapped in its entirety by its five founders: Kym Huynh, Demi Markogiannaki, Martin Kemka, Rowan McSweeney and Cheng Zhu, and was launched for under $400 in total over 116 days of work; that’s roughly $3.33/day.

What may even surprise you even more is what the expenses were attributed to. Apart from server hire to launch the website, SSL certificates and venue hire to provide a venue for the team to work from, expenses prior to launch consisted mostly of coffees to keep the team awake and food to power them on.

Development work and design work were conducted in-house whilst communications and social media strategies were borne straight from the expertise of the individuals involved.

Upon reflection, co-founder Cheng Zhu quips in, “If we all brought our own food and drink, we could have launched WeTeachMe for approximately $150.”

WeTeachMe officially launched on July 25, 2011 – 116 days after its inception.

How to Replicate WeTeachMe’s Success; the Tools They Used

“We are living in middle of a second renaissance. The rate at which new companies are forming are exponentially rising, and opportunities that exist are so mind-boggling that you almost want to clone yourself so you can work on multiple ideas,” says co-founder Kym Huynh, “It’s incredible to think that you can launch a company on the back of a credit card.”

WeTeachMe was launched for under $400 over 116 days. Here’s how they did it:

  • Communication tools: Gmail (Google Apps) for round-the-clock communication and Skype for online conferences and meetings.
  • File sharing, synchronization and backup: Dropbox syncs documents and files between multiple computers so founders all have access to the latest versions of any document or file.
  • Collaborative task lists: Wunderlist keeps a synced to-do list across all staff mobile devices and computers so that everyone knows what tasks are outstanding and what has been completed.
  • Industry knowledge: Google Alerts keep the team updated on what’s happening around the industry. Feeding the alerts through to Google Reader made the daily consumption of alerts a quick and painless process.
  • Note taking and snapshots: Evernote is an invaluable tool in keeping track of notes, documents and snapshots in one central location for later reference.
  • Rapport building: Gmail extension Rapportive provides a social media-derived snapshot of email contacts.
  • Social media management: Tweetdeck provides the ability to manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts simultaneously. A great timesaving productivity tool.

The Collaborative Consumption Wave

As society moves towards a collaborative consumption model where resources are distributed and shared amongst the community, it’s heartening to see the pace at which innovation takes place.

From accommodation-sharing services such as Airbnb to car sharing (Zipcar and RelayRides) to collaborative tasks (TaskRabbit) and vehicle parking (ParkatmyHouse), this rapid explosion in trading sharing is now transforming the educational landscape as we know it.

The team behind WeTeachMe consisting of Kym Huynh, Demi Markogiannaki, Martin Kemka, Rowan McSweeney and Cheng Zhu are intelligent, articulate and most importantly, great fun to be around, and it is heartening to see such passionate visionaries lead the charge for education reform. Says co-founder Kym Huynh, “Anyone can launch a company on the back of a credit card nowadays. If you have an idea, go for it. Just do it.”

When quizzed about why they are so dedicated to the social learning space, co-founder Rowan McSweeney replies, “As a youngster, I watched my mother build up her own speech and drama school which allowed me to understand the joy of bringing a learning environment to the community.”

Keep a close eye on this bunch, great things are sure to come their way.

There is no reason why someone without an idea shouldn’t go for it. Just do it.”

WeTeachMe, the Craigslist of Skills and Learning

WeTeachMe and is currently looking for people interested in teaching 1-1 lessons or workshops. For more information, please contact [email protected] or visit WeTeachMe.

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