Education

How A Random Trip To A Bookstore Kickstarted This M’sian Team’s Online Learning Platform

It’s been a hot minute since I was in secondary school, but I still remember clearly those days of grudgingly having to revise my weak subjects.

Not to mention that revision books were pricey, so every time I was forced to buy one by my teachers, I would either barely use it or scribble lightly in them with a pencil (so I could erase my scribblings and potentially sell the book off to an underclassman later).

It always just seemed a waste to buy physical revision books that would only be good for a year or two, since the way they were structured was based on predictions of what would come out in the national exams that year.

Many kids probably share my sentiment, and parents who have to constantly make ends meet may struggle to buy new revision books every 6 months or so, for 11 years of their kids’ schooling life.

Realising that there was a gap in the market that they could potentially address, Kevin and CK founded WahEasy as a solution for schoolchildren, their parents, and teachers too.

A Moment Of Revelation

It all started in early December 2018 with Kevin and CK’s visit to a large bookstore. To their surprise, there was a long line of parents queueing up to buy revision books and exercise sheets.

It turned out that there was a massive book sale ongoing. Unwilling to wait 45 minutes just to buy a pen, Kevin was about to leave when CK pointed something out.

CK comes from an education industry background and founded his own learning and education centre in Penang, so he was aware of the current syllabus.

And it turned out that the majority of study materials in that bookstore were already outdated and irrelevant, yet here all these parents were, unaware of that and ready to spend money on them.

Trying to look on the bright side, Kevin said, “At least the writers make money, right? It’s kind of good for the industry. More purchases lead to more income, leading to more innovation and better content from the writers.”

But what CK said in reply shocked him. “Kevin, I know a lot of teachers who write for many publishers. Truth is, they get paid peanuts these days. And more than 99% of teachers in Malaysia do not even have the chance to publish a book!”

Out and about doing market validation / Image Credit: WahEasy

They knew then that they had to do something about this whole situation, so they put together CK’s experience in the education industry and Kevin’s knowledge of selling online (he’s a director of a company selling marine equipment globally via the internet) and began digging into the market and seeking validation from parents and students.

Eventually, they arrived at the current idea that’s WahEasy, and it was officially launched in May 2019.

Options For Everyone

WahEasy benefits 3 groups of people: students aged 6 to 17, parents, and teachers.

For students, they’re able to get courses where real past exam papers are curated and provided to them for free, or they can opt for a paid course with access to patented content, feedback on homework from the teacher behind the course, and tips and techniques that teachers would not give out for free.

As for parents, they benefit from not having to buy expensive and outdated study materials.

Teachers, on the other hand, can earn a 50% profit share in passive income by listing a course on WahEasy.

“If it is a high-quality course that has appeal, it will bring in consistent income to the teacher as WahEasy will be responsible for handling all online marketing, advertising costs, copywriting, and even customer inquiries,” Kevin told Vulcan Post.

Some examples of courses on WahEasy

When it comes to things as serious as a child’s education, a parent would have their doubts on how legitimate the courses taught by a third party are.

Before approving a listing, WahEasy has an internal panel that will vet the teacher and the courses they’re putting up to ensure that the material being submitted is in line with the correct syllabus.

“We also have a transparent review and feedback system for customers, which helps us maintain a certain level of standard and quality,” Kevin said.

There’s Always More To Learn

One of the benefits of WahEasy’s platform is that no matter where they are, teachers and students can still interact.

Kevin gave us the example of some East Malaysian students who enrolled in a course from a top BM tutor in Penang.

“In this case, the course is designed to help a native Chinese speaker improve their BM karangan with Cikgu Lee’s patented techniques and secrets. Based thousands of kilometres away, a Sarawakian student would not have access to this content otherwise,” he explained.

While WahEasy’s current focus is on study materials, Kevin revealed that they’re excited to launch a subscription feature called ‘classes’ in March.

“‘Classes’ enable anybody to subscribe to a teacher, and the teacher can provide anything from live classes to unique video content for these subscribers. You can think of it as a Patreon for teachers, where we generate predictable, recurring online income for teachers.”

The WahEasy team / Image Credit: WahEasy

As for WahEasy’s own streams of revenue, they take a 50% profit share from every paid course sold.

But Kevin foresees more monetisation opportunities in the future, saying, “At the end of the day, we are building a one-stop platform for learning, while targeting a severely underserved niche in a proven profitable market.”

In the coming months, the WahEasy team will work on encouraging holistic education by introducing more soft skills courses, expanding their target demographics, and making better use of the valuable data that they collect.

“Exciting times ahead!” Kevin concluded of it all.

  • You can read more about what we’ve written on education here.

Featured Image Credit: WahEasy

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