After two and a half years of providing tuition for high school students in Auckland, education provider MyTuition is expanding into the capital.

MyTuition co-founder Jimmy Li shares his motivation behind the business.

What does MyTuition do?

MyTuition helps high school students succeed academically. What we do is connect students with high-achieving university students that have recently been through what they are going through and then work behind the scenes to make sure everything is on track.

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Our mission is to help every high school student in New Zealand through their greatest challenges, by connecting them with people and advice.

What gave you the idea for the business?

In university I did private tutoring and I realised that a lot of the time when you are tutoring, sure you are helping students with maths and algebra, but there is also a need for life mentorships.

I found it was a much-needed thing to bridge the knowledge and experience gap between generations, and tutoring is a great way to do that - you can piggyback a lot of different initiatives on the basis of tutoring.

What subject tuition does MyTuition provide?

All the major subjects: Maths, English, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Economics, Business. We have around 230 tutors across Auckland at the moment so we are growing quite fast.

When did you start the business?

We started in 2014, we're now one of the biggest tutoring organisations in the city and have just expanded to Wellington, so everything is looking up. We're starting off with high school tutoring but there are so many places we can take it.

How many students has MyTuition helped?

We have helped something close to 700 in the last year. We just surpassed the 10,000 lessons mark too, which is great. People really seem to be responding well to our approach - we are tripling in numbers every year and that seems to be on track for next year as well.

Left to right: Community storyteller Maggie Shui, education advisor Michelle Chamberlin, tutor manager Callum Fitzpatrick and education advisor Samantha McDiarmid.
Left to right: Community storyteller Maggie Shui, education advisor Michelle Chamberlin, tutor manager Callum Fitzpatrick and education advisor Samantha McDiarmid.

How much do lessons cost?

We charge $28 per hour for pair lessons with two students, and $42 per hour for individual lessons. Lessons are usually 1 to 1.5 hours for each subject, taking place every week.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?

The greatest challenge has been scaling up the business while keeping things as affordable as possible. Our entire business is now run on a software platform that we built ourselves. It pretty much manages all of the operations and helps us focus our time on finding the best tutors and helping our students.

The best way to learn, especially if you are falling behind, is from someone who has been in your shoes and can relate to you.

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It has also been a challenge to build a system quick enough to accommodate all the students and tutors - it's a constant tug of war.

Tell me about the tutors you hire - how many are past students?

All of our tutors are bright, university students giving back to high school students.

We take on anyone whose is bright, has had excellence grades, but also someone who can act as a mentor as well as a teacher. Many of them are fresh university students who want to take their new found experience and give back to the next generation.

MyTuition tutors socialise and attend weekly training workshops.
MyTuition tutors socialise and attend weekly training workshops.

We've only been operating for two years so not all of our students have graduated high school yet, we are only now starting to see the first trickle of earlier students. Of our very early students, something like 30 per cent have gone on to become tutors from the very first wave.

What makes MyTuition different from other tutoring companies?

We aim to make tutoring accessible by keeping the cost down.

We also do a lot of guidance services and support behind the scenes. Many other tutoring agencies set you up and forget about you - they won't be monitoring what's going on and they won't be keeping an eye out for red flags.

We pride ourselves on the fact that out tutors are mentors to our students.

Teachers do a fantastic job but often the more experience the teacher has, the greater disconnect between what the teacher is teaching and what the student experiences. The best way to learn, especially if you are falling behind, is from someone who has been in your shoes and can relate to you.

What's your advice for other small business operators?

Just go out and do something. You could be stuck in decision paralysis forever, but at the end of the day you should do something to see if it helps someone - everything else flows from that.