WeTeachMe founder and CEO Kym Huynh’s reaction was one of "complete disbelief" when his startup was chosen as co-winner of the inaugural The Big pitch last night: "I was really expecting one of the other companies [to win] so when they called out WeTeachMe, I thought I had misheard. I turned to my business partner and just stared at her for a while and then she gave me a push on to the stage."
The judges’ decision meant that WeTeachMe will take a $2 million prize and expert mentoring just 18 months after launching.
A former lawyer, Huynh, 29, was involved in a car accident that made him realize he wanted to get more out of life than his job offered. "I looked for a project that I could pour my heart and soul into and that’s how WeTeachMe came about." He spent time on research and development and launched in December 2012.
It is setup as a marketplace on courses. Consumers wanting to find a teacher or a class can go to the website, weteachme.com and find information on course conveners, classes and locations in their chosen field. This can include subjects as varied as cooking classes, rock climbing, painting and tango dancing. Consumers can then book their chosen class directly on the site.
The site is Australia wide, with a heavy Melbourne usage and currently lists over 10,000 classes. From this week the site will expand to include music and language classes. The consumer is charged a four percent fee but the class provider can absorb this to offset the impost if they desire.
Located in Melbourne’s CBD and employing nine people including Huynh, WeTeachMe can point to a strong foundation and is growing fast. It is poised to move to the next level by taking everything it has learned and entering into even more valuable market categories, Huynh said. The software tools it has developed can offer other markets the same savings in time and costs.
Part of the prize WeTeachMe is sharing includes mentoring from Dodo founder Larry Kestelman.
For Huynh, this is a very attractive prospect: "As a team, we’ve always taken the view that if we ever take on investment, what we’re really looking for is the intellectual capital behind that investment, so we’re looking for someone with business know-how, with networks and with thoughts they can bring to the table."
That contribution is certainly something Oxygen Ventures can provide.