Entrepreneur

This S'pore Startup Created An App So That You Can Learn Anything From Maths To Mahjong

If you’re a parent or someone looking to learn a new skill, here’s an app you can use.

Chizzle is a platform that connects learners to teachers, and allows anyone to learn anything they want. It’s like a marketplace for students to look for teachers, and teachers to take in students.

Parents looking for tutors for their children, children looking for cooking instructors for their parents, or just about anyone looking to learn a new skill or a subject can use Chizzle.

The app was officially launched in October 2016 and it was founded by Ankit Agarwal, a seasoned telecom and IT professional, and Sonal Dabral, an advertising and branding veteran.

But how did two people from vastly different industries come together to create a platform like Chizzle?

From Co-Actors To Co-Founders

Ankit Agarwal / Image Credit: Ankit Agarwal

On top of being the Founder of Chizzle, leading the product and tech team, Ankit is also the Regional Director for Asia Pacific at an international tech solutions company.

He has over 20 years of experience and is passionate about simplifying and enhancing people’s lives with technology.

Here’s an interesting fact: Ankit but his passion extends to theatre too, so outside of work, he transforms into different characters on the stage.

And the stage is where he met his fellow co-founder, Sonal.

Sonal Dabral / Image Credit: Campaign India

Sonal is currently the Chief Creative Officer and vice-chairman of Ogilvy India, a world-renowned advertising and creative agency.

He was previously the Executive Creative Director and chairman of Ogilvy Singapore from 2004 to 2007.

Naturally, he takes the lead at marketing and branding for Chizzle.

Here’s another interesting fact: In 1989, he debuted alongside Bollywood mega-star, Shah Rukh Khan, in a Hindi TV series in India called, Fauji.

I guess his love for acting persisted and by fate, he met Ankit when they were acting in the same play.

Ankit told me they had done a few plays together:

“Then at some point in time, outside of theatre, we started discussing about what is it that we can do to improve the lives of people. A discussion at Sonal’s office in Mumbai led us to the concept of Chizzle.”

Perhaps what inspired Chizzle was Sonal’s belief that learning never stops.

Caleb, a POA tutor / Image Credit: Chizzle

“[The idea came to us] at a time in our professional lives when we felt compelled to do something more relevant to society,” Ankit said.

To put it simply, Chizzle is a platform that matches a learning requirement to a skilled teacher.

Both of them are no strangers to living and working in Singapore, and with our country’s reputation for being an economic hub, it’s no surprise they have chosen to launch Chizzle here first.

The bulk of Chizzle’s in-app functions and further improvements are all shaped by users.

Coach Gerry, a soccer instructor / Image Credit: Chizzle

“Singapore is a great market for any product’s first launch, as it has a tech-savvy population with a good mix of nationalities…which helped us in getting feedback on the product, its features, and functionalities during the beta stage and post-launch,” he said.

As society progresses, demands and expectations become higher too. This is apparent in the individuals and workers who want to improve on themselves or upgrade their skills.

Ankit explained that it is important that they build a product that “maximises the productivity of any person willing to teach” and that is what Chizzle enables them to do.

“It is not just teachers of academics; (teachers in) sports and hobbies with experience will find Chizzle useful. The elderly…professionals, even homemakers – just about anyone who wants to teach a skill is welcome to join.”

Platform For The Teachers, Personalised For The Learners

Tejash, an English Literature tutor / Image Credit: Chizzle

Chizzle customises its teachers according to the interests, availability, and preferred location of the learner.

The learner can also filter with the preferred place to learn, like at home, a classroom, or the teacher’s place, the preferred class size, and preferred day(s) of the week.

Ankit explained that while most platforms only provide up to searching and matching, Chizzle allows teachers and learners to manage their schedule, cancellations, track attendance, rate teachers, and set reminders.

Users looking for teachers can check out reviews of the teachers and communicate with the teacher before booking a lesson. Teachers can also provide assistance to their students after lessons by responding to broadcast messages or their queries via chat.

 

Umesh, a swimming instructor / Image Credit: Chizzle

Currently, Chizzle has close to 2000 users.

More than 1000 of these users are registered as teachers, and over 700 users are registered as learners.

Ankit revealed there are close to 75,000 hours of lessons available in Singapore. If there are subjects that are not on Chizzle, teachers can submit a request to add it on the platform and the team will add it in if there’s a demand.

Some of the subjects include Bachata Dance, wine tasting, parkour, and even mahjong!

The top three subjects that teachers teach on Chizzle are maths, swimming, and tennis, in this order.

Ankit, himself, uses the app regularly to find teachers and coaches for his children too.

A Learning App For Everyone

Aylwin (right), a Karate instructor / Image Credit: Chizzle

More than 150 teachers and educators across Singapore and Australia were surveyed to find out the problems they faced and what kind of an app would be useful for them as well as for learners.

“Early test users involved friends, family, and some teachers who were engaged in the initial survey process. Once Chizzle was commercially launched, (they were invited) to use the app and provide feedback like other users,” Ankit told me.

He believed that Chizzle “empowers anyone with a skill and desire to teach” and it isn’t limited to the teachers and coaches community.

Their market research did pay off as Ankit told me that the probability of students signing up or booking a trial lesson right after one session of chatting with teachers is high.

Amita, an art teacher / Image Credit: Chizzle

Perhaps because of their roles at their full-time jobs, they have high expectations of their product, so they were constantly improving it before its launch.

“There were multiple changes that had to be incorporated with every version we made. It always seemed like the next one would be ready to go out in the market, but we would discover something new every release,” Ankit explained.

Chizzle had been revised more than 70 times before it was released commercially. Even though it was a challenge to coordinate with teams in four different parts of the world and meeting deadlines, he said he enjoyed himself.

“The obstacles we face today are about the speed at which we can incorporate customer feedback into the product,” he said.

“We take each feedback seriously and evaluate its feasibility; we follow a 90:10 rule, if any feature is of use to 10 per cent or more users, we go ahead with it.”

John, a tennis instructor / Image Credit: Chizzle

At the moment, Chizzle is available in Singapore and Australia, and they are set to launch in India some time this February. The web version of the app will be launched in the next few months.

Other improvements like payments to teachers through the app will also be rolled out soon. Currently, learners pay directly to teachers, so this update will ensure they get a full refund if they do not attend a lesson or if the teacher cancels the lesson.

Ankit said the building of the app motivates them greatly.

“We see Chizzle as a community (driven by people who wants to share knowledge). It is like telling a person, ‘You’re really good. We think you can teach it to others and monetise your skills, here’s the chance to do it.”

Try it out for yourself, download the Chizzle app on iOS here and on Android here. Follow them on Facebook here!

Featured Image Credit: Chizzle

 

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