London: Over the past few months due to the pandemic crisis, the demand for digital learning has rapidly increased, shedding light on the growing dynamism in the edtech sector.
With a vision to build “a global digital school”, edtech startup GoStudent promises to connect students with the best teachers worldwide, for both individual and group tutoring sessions. The Austrian-based company has cleverly developed its own application process using an AI-based diagnosis test to determine what makes an excellent digital teacher.
We sat down with GoStudent’s founder and CEO, Felix Ohswald to discuss further expansion plans and how, together with his team, he is pushing for quality education for the masses.
Hello Felix, thank you for joining us! Let’s jump in with your story. What first got you into entrepreneurship and why did you decide to start your own company, GoStudent?
I was truly fortunate to have a grandfather who was a great teacher for me when I was still a high school student. He shared his passion and enthusiasm for science with me and showed me how much influence a good teacher can have in your life. It is unfortunate to see how many students all over the world do not have access to fantastic teachers. It is the biggest problem in education globally – a lack of access to exceptional teachers. Back then, I started leveraging my passion for connecting students with great teachers and supported them in their journey.
GoStudent was founded in 2016. How have your objectives and goals changed since the company has grown?
When we first started out, we wanted to solve the problem by directly addressing students in the age range of 6-19. Later we realized that in order to build a scalable and profitable business model, we actually needed to address the parents aswell.
You are based in Vienna, Austria. What is your opinion on the environment for creating a tech company there?
Vienna is repeatedly one of the cities with the highest quality of life and, therefore, a suitable anchor for attracting talents all over Europe and the world to come here and work for fast-growing companies. The more success stories we can produce out of Austria, the more talent we will attract in the future.
One of the things that are lacking in my opinion is an institution like the ETH University in Zurich, which attracts talent from around the globe. Building elite institutions is the critical element for a thriving ecosystem and, ultimately, for success in that space.
The edtech sector is currently booming and digital learning solutions have risen due to the COVID pandemic. What differentiates GoStudent from other online learning platforms?
We offer an education infrastructure that allows teachers to become great digital companions, teach students online and get the best out of this digital environment. The teacher-centric focus is unique in the online learning space, as in the past, the focus was too much on open marketplaces rather than building scalable and technological defensible teacher infrastructure.
How are you fighting the “black market” for private tutoring sessions?
Edudation is very much about the quality of the service. Therefore, offering much better quality for an affordable price will eventually dry out the shadow market.
You’ve recently secured €8.3 million in a Series A round. Congratulations! What are your plans for international expansion?
We plan to strengthen our position in the DACH region further and start our first expansion into the French market.
What are the top qualities and skills you are looking for when hiring at GoStudent?
Passion for education as well as a hunger for going the extra mile. We want to build the #1 global school. Therefore we expect that every new employee becomes #1. You cannot become the fastest sprinter without working extremely hard every day and have a passion for running.
These are challenging times for many early-stage companies and, at EU-Startups we always try to highlight best practices from most successful entrepreneurs. What marketing strategies is GoStudent using at the moment and would recommend to other B2C digital startups?
Focus on how customers have looked at or requested certain products and services in the past. You do not need to reinvent the wheel for your marketing strategies; you can do it in the way it was always done just with digital tools.
What exciting things can we expect from GoStudent in the next 12 months?
We want to become a role model for digital education businesses in Europe. We are incredibly passionate about that space and want to convince many other entrepreneurs to build companies in this sector as well. By proving that it is also possible to build large-scale companies out of this, it hopefully attracts more and more people to do similarly. We need to slow down the rapidly increasing prices in education, and it can only be done by building as Marc Andreesen also pointed out in one of his recent articles.
Last, but not least, how do you see the future of edtech?
I see a bright future for edtech because we will see more and more really successful education companies like BYJU in India or TAL Education in China that will lead to a boom in founding new education companies. The more we try out, the better, and also the more innovative, we will become.