Something’s up in the world of education. Gradually, the internet is having its transformative impact. Salman Khan showed us what is possible using the internet to teach. Major universities are placing their courseware and lectures online. And an in increasing number of online marketplaces are connected learners and teachers on any conceivable topic. One such startup is WeTeachMe, a marketplace for real life classes. Founded in Australia by Kym Huynh, Cheng Zhu, Demi Markogiannaki and Martin Kemka, here’s s a platform where people can learn anything they want, anytime they want. Welcome to the future of education. We spoke to Kym Huynh, Learnologist No. 7 at WeTeachMe.
Hi Kym, tell us why you got involved in education and entrepreneurship?
My family were refugee survivors from Vietnam; victims of a political regime that saw intelligence as a threat and one where having your say involves risks and consequences. They left their world and generations of belonging behind to start over in Australia, rebuilding their lives and family in a strange land and making it their own.
The story of their escape and survival is part of the foundation of who I am. It is a story that I rarely share, but it is one that permeates everything I do; you have to do the best with what you have. Entrepreneurship is a privileged opportunity that I would not want to waste. I am mindful of this and work hard every single day to make sure I do the best that I can. In line with my personal beliefs, WeTeachMe - a marketplace for real life classes – provides similar opportunities to people by democratising education and making it accessible to anyone anywhere.
Can you tell us a little about your company’s approach and work method?
The greatest thing about WeTeachMe is its team. We worked very hard early on in our early days to establish a fun, positive and collaborative culture that welcomes people and values their thoughts and processes; and we continue to work very hard to ensure that we don’t stray from our people/team-centric focus.
We ground the above with a mentality of constantly challenging ourselves and what we are capable of so that we grow throughout the process. Here‘s an article describing the process. High-level thinking is done in a very collaborative manner, and then each person is entrusted with tasks related to their domain expertise that play to their own unique strengths. Each person is supported and we make sure we all get things done; but never at the sacrifice of personal relationships (but this is another story for another time).
What is a typical day like for your team? How do you organise your days?
The team at WeTeachMe all have relatively flexible work days. We don’t require our team to sit in an office from X to Y time so long as we get the tasks knocked off the to-do list, but we do encourage regular face-to-face contact.
Despite operating in the online space, a lot of our work requires face-to-face interaction and relationship building so we’re often out of the building meeting people, talking to our community and working on exciting projects that we find inspiring and challenging.
Do you enjoy your work? Why? What exactly makes it all worth it?
People! People! People!
Not only do I get to work with an engaged and inspired team whom I love, I get to see and work with my best friend every single day on an idea that aligns with my personal ethos. I feel like an incredibly lucky guy.
“You won’t regret chasing something that you love.”
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
My life goal is to make a lasting and positive contribution to this world by always listening, always learning and helping people reach out and touch and inspire the lives of others from all corners of the globe. To support my life’s mission of educating, entertaining, and empowering people, I become a co-founder of WeTeachMe.
The inspiration is the easy part. I’m naturally a very optimistic person. Combined with the fact that I’m working on something that I am passionate about, the combination makes being inspired effortless.
Match what you do with what you are passionate about then watch the flow happen.
How do you keep focused on doing something unique, creative & true to yourself?
Foster a culture of honesty and communication; and work in a team.
We are all aware that motivation and energy levels are cyclical and are understanding of this. Thus, when one person requires a step back to recharge, others are ready to pick up the slack so that we all move forward as a team.
The psychological effect of working within a team is fascinating. You feel supported and as long as the communication lines are kept open, magic happens.
Can you tell us a little about your workspace – how have your organised your workspace to create a stimulating & productive work environment?
The recipe for a stimulating work environment?
Plenty of light to make your day a little bit brighter.
Fantastic people to make you laugh.
Work that aligns with who you are and what you are passionate about.
Music that keeps you dancing throughout the day.
As for tools, here are some great tips on how you can run your own startup using Evernote! http://blog.evernote.com/2012/01/05/how-to-run-your-startup-with-evernote-weteachme-for-teaching-and-learning/
What sort of skills do you need to do your work?
Passion. Integrity. Reliability. Constancy. Communication.
Do you have one piece of advice for other aspirant entrepreneurs?
Find whatever it is that you’re passionate about, and then go for it. I have never met a person who told me that they regretted being brave enough to go for it. You won’t regret chasing something that you love.