“Revolutionary” tutoring app MyCademia hits UBC campus

MyCademia, an app meant to connect students with tutors and tutors with students, is the brainchild of UBC alumni Eren Cubukgil and Peter Moonen. The app users are both students and tutors, and both can accept and request tutoring services.

Cubukgil sees himself as a revolutionary and his app as a catalyst to major economic change. The development of this app arose from his own struggle with the inefficiencies of what he sees as a currently outdated market.

“I discovered quite a few market failures in the tutoring industry resulting from everything from the agency problem to imperfect [and] asymmetrical information,” said Cubukgil.

Currently, the majority of the tutoring market is dominated by tutoring agencies that distribute tutors to clients. These agencies typically take a large cut of the client’s fee, leaving tutors with the short end of the stick. Tutors that don’t join an agency are left to fend for themselves with physical posters and Craigslist ads.

“You can either sell you soul, in a sense, and go through the agency model or you can test your luck on Craigslist,”said Cubukgil. “On Craigslist everyone’s a list, everyone’s a number, and that’s the best that you can do.”

Regarding posters, the duo shared a humorous anecdote of finding a poster advertising statistics-specific tutoring services partially covered by a poster made by a student looking for a statistics-specific tutor.

“They were overlapping and that’s the perfect example of the inefficiencies of the current system. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

To remedy these inefficiencies, the team said that MyCademia streamlines the process for both tutors and students.

“The way to do it is to simply kick out the agency model,” said Cubukgil. “The first person to set the price is the student, tutors respond to it and it’s competitive.”

When users download the app and create an account, they can make posts that are location-specific to where they are such as, for example, in a library. Other users can then filter posts by faculty and year level, and find students to tutor at a price that they agree upon.

Because users can be both students and tutors at the same time, Cubukgil sees this as a catalyst to the sharing economy.

“This is what the sharing economy is – opening up the idle capacity all around you,” he said.

He views students’ brainpower as inactive resources. This type of idle capacity is utilized by companies like Uber and AirBnB to provide services to people who need them by people who aren’t using them.

“It’s what Uber did with hitchhiking, it’s what AirBnB did with idle resources. We’re trying to apply it to knowledge sharing in general,” said Cubukgil.

Currently, no app exists for facilitating a sharing economy for knowledge. Cubukgil plans on being the first to market and doesn’t see any existing competition that is broad enough to compete with their model.

“They have maybe 100, 200 tutors. There are 60,000 students at UBC,” he said.

By making users both students and tutors, Cubukgil says that they are able to reduce fixed costs and allow supply to naturally meet demand.

“Our capital is here. It’s in you. It’s in us. It’s the human capital we’re tapping into,” he continued.

In his eyes, this is the future where everyone is collectively providing their own special skills to contribute to the greater progress of society.

MyCademia is currently available in the app store for iOS devices and will launch in the Google Play Store in the next week.