HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

With US$8m raised to-date, Snapask expands to Japan, Thailand and Korea

The e-learning and virtual tutorial platform is now a haven to more than 350,000 Asian students.

When a Form 4 student in Hong Kong was taking double the time to understand Mathematics concepts than his peers, he was compelled to sign up to Snapask. The e-learning and tutorial platform is now a haven to more than 350,000 other young Asian students where they can ask questions and learn at their own pace with the help of virtual tutors.

The company plans to expand to Japan, Thailand and Korea in the next six months, powered by US$8m in raised funds to-date and aspirations to become a global education powerhouse.

“Neither his school class or tuition centre has the time in the tight schedule to cater to his needs in detailed explanation of topics and questions,” says Timothy Yu, founder of Snapask on the Form 4 student’s struggles, which his start-up have been addressing through its e-learning platform.

“He thinks the one-on-one chat makes it less embarrassing for him to ask his core questions and has the time and space for him to grasp the concept. He felt a lot more confident with Mathematics and is seeing an improvement in his academic results. Snapask is still supporting him this year as he prepares for his HKDSE.”

Hong Kong students take the HKDSE, or Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, after finishing their six-year secondary education to measure their attainment and is a key determinant to which universities they can apply.

Branching out from Hong Kong and four other countries where it currently operates (it debuted in Malaysia and Indonesia earlier this year), Snapask plans to attract more students in Japan, Thailand and Korea.

“We are aiming to become the first global education company by 2020. We are therefore expanding rapidly in different regions to support this ambitious goal. Ultimately, we hope to establish operations in 30 regions around the globe and be the leader in self-directed learning trends,” says Yu.

With its fast user base growth and scaling potential, Snapask has raised a total of US$8m to-date from accelerator programmes, individual investors and venture capital firms since it was founded in 2015. Its pool of tutors has also ballooned to 20,000, enabling faster and better quality assistance to students. A typical Snapask user can snap a picture of a question and receive assistance from local tutors within seconds.

“Unlike most e-learning tools available around Asia, we are not simply providing a platform for students to get one-way learning. It allows our students to take the lead by asking questions that they have at hand during their revision. Contents are therefore personalised to every student’s needs," says Yu.

The founder recalls how Snapask began two years ago as a Question & Answer (Q&A) platform where students could receive instant homework help from tutors. Since then, the start-up has added a Quizzes feature, a free-to-use platform for students that want to practice with digitised academic content.

Last year, Yu was named to the Forbes Asia's 30 under 30 list, recognising him as one of the “brightest young entrepreneurs” in the region. The finance professional decided to ditch the lucrative field to found Snapask after seeing a market gap in student education outside the school setting. His instinct paid off, with the start-up progressing rapidly from a side project, to angel investor darling, to accelerator and incubation success story.

“Questioning the efficiency and effectiveness of brick-and-mortar tutoring centres, I began working on an alternative platform to bridge the strong demand for after-class education support with talented but busy university student,” says Yu. “We hope to equip our students with self-directed learning skills.” 

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