Now get online homework help through one-on-one tutoring

By : |January 24, 2008 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: One of the leading educational organizations in India, tcyonline.com is gaining a foothold in North America with its unique online tutoring budgeted plans. In a talk with CIOL Bureau, Kamal Wadhera, the founder and CEO of tcyonline.com spoke on the company specialization in school programs and standardized test preparation by providing live online homework help through one-on-one tutoring.

The company is now mapping out top US cities through its prospective affiliates with the just launched attractive ‘zero-investment’ model plan. Wadhera touches upon the Affiliate Business Model of tcyonline.com 

CIOL: There are already host of tutoring players in the American market. How different is tcyonline.com from them?
Kamal Wadhera: I categorize these players primarily into two parts; the companies delivering the services form within the US and from outside the US. While majority of the American companies is providing these services to the end customers (school-kids) at highly prohibitive prices, the same job is being done by offshore companies, like us, at a much lesser cost, thereby putting lesser burden on the parents. We have an edge over the US companies because we provide great value for money. On top of that, our results speak for themselves.

Today, with over 250,000 hours of total tutoring experience and over 1000 US students already tutored in the last two years, we are at a much stronger position. Our old students testify for us because we have made considerable difference in their lives. Our tutors have helped improve their grades a lot.  Now we have a series of great results to show during the last two years that have made both students and parents very satisfied. Many of our students are repeat students.  They were earlier with us in the lower grades and they are still with us in their higher grades. The student satisfaction has really pushed the enrolments. That I think is something encouraging for us.

CIOL: But how different you are from the BPO industry?
K.M: I don’t see it as an outsourcing venture.  Ours is purely an educational venture. The only difference is that it (education) is happening over the Net and the end-customer is sitting 10,000 miles away. So, it’s not at all a BPO play for us. Ninety per cent of the companies that had mushroomed in this sector thinking it as BPO sector have vanished. It’s a pure and serious education play. The challenges in the US are different as kids have more distractions there. With over nine years of experience in education and over two years in e tutoring US kids, we are very comfortable handling these issues. If you see the BPOs, their only plank is cost arbitrage, irrespective of the quality of services. But you can’t afford to do that with kids’ education. You can’t cut corners on any aspect.

Over here we have been following a unique five-step approach since day one. Our academic counselors monitor our tutors so that at no point of time anything is compromised in the entire delivery process. So, this is like teaching one-on-one in a classroom and certainly not another BPO business.

CIOL: Some of the Americans are not happy with the outsourcing services. Here you are dealing with school kids. Don’t you think your responsibility increases manifold?
K.M: Definitely. I would say this is a very sensitive area. The reasons behind outsourcing services (not doing well) were slightly different. Accent was one problem and customer service was another. Coming to schools, we have to be very careful, for example who the tutor is, what he talks, how good his presentation is, how caring and passionate he is, how well he can relate to the problem of the child.  At all times, he has to be very patient. He can’t afford to lose his patience and can’t use language that is uncalled for.  So, we train them in all aspects before they go live. 

CIOL: Your new Affiliate Business Model sounds good on paper.  How realistic is your ‘zero investment’ offer?
K.M: We have rolled out this plan after considerable amount of research on existing services, other choices in front of the customer, pain points, gaps in the market etc. This is one aspect of the venture. Secondly, we have considerable experience in the Indian market in terms of franchising and handling affiliates. So, as far as our system and replication of our services are concerned, we are comfortable on that. If there are any hiccups, we will overcome them, as our team is humble and quick to learn.

Regarding zero investment offer, it’s not a classroom setting for our affiliates. We are not replicating our delivery systems i.e. they don’t have to deliver the services on our behalf.  They just have to enroll students and delivery is from our end.

In the Indian market, when we are franchising our classroom services, we do charge a considerable amount licensing fee and security. Our affiliates in the US and Canada would be primarily counseling and enrolling students. So we don’t want to burden them unnecessarily.

CIOL: What are your expectations from this model?
K.M:  Well, we have very realistic expectations. It should pick up very fast because education is a great pain for any parent in the world and the US is no different. With the budgeted K-12 school programs we will make private supplementary education effective and affordable, and reach out to an average American household.

We need somebody representing us close to the end customer so that we understand him better. That’s where affiliates come in. It’s a win-win situation for the end-customer as well as the affiliate. So, if both are satisfied in this chain, we are bound to succeed.

CIOL: Who all could be interested to become your affiliate and what benefits they can expect from you?
K.M:
Educators, publishers, tutoring companies, home business owners, individuals or businesses with an interest in the education sector would be keen to become our affiliate. They could be people who have had some academic connection in the past, either in a teaching capacity or school administration. Since they know this field a little, it would be easier for them to understand the whole concept and be successful earlier in this venture. Now, talking about benefits, we have seen that working in this sector is much more satisfying than working for any other venture. If you put in the same kind of energy, one feels much more satisfied at the end of the day. Secondly, the financial rewards from this model are so handsome that anybody would love to be associated with us.

CIOL: What’s your experience of understanding partnerships?
K.M: We definitely have been receiving good exposure and experience in managing partnerships. In India, we started franchising four years back.  Though we went on a conventional affiliate route for the first few years, we rewarded them for their motivation and gradually the partnership grew stronger. It helped us to grow much faster in the competitive field. Now, our existing partners are providing us referrals and increasing our network. We have learnt to give freedom and space to our partners in progress and always encourage them with rewards.  In the US, we have partnered with few tutoring companies and publishers and have helped them in the service delivery to the end customer.

CIOL: What’s the foundation of your tutoring program and how scalable is it?
K.M: I do not know whether scalable is the right word over here but definitely since everything is at its place: huge content repository for K-12 for all grades, topic and the states. The foundation has already been laid. All the inputs required for State curriculum alignment are already in place. Now it is just a matter of enrolling students and delivering the services to them. Talking of the delivery side, our team is very strong. Our tutors are kind, patient and give individual attention to every child. I would like to mention here that academic counselors, who are very experienced, always supervise our tutors. I do not see any hurdle in our scalability.

CIOL: So, where do you see tcyonline.com down the line, say in the next three years from now?
K.M: We are quite optimistic and have big plans for the future. We see tens of thousands of students enrolling with us for homework help, test preparation and High School Programs in every State of the US. Our affiliates’ services would be extended throughout the country after we establish our offices in four to five major cities of the US.

 

 

 

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