The greatest inventions develop out of need. Elisha Tan found one. Her new web application, Learnemy plugs a hole in the marketplace — for peer-to-peer, formally informal learning.
Learnemy is a platform for knowledge-thirsty individuals looking to connect with others to learn skills and/or sell/utilize their skills. By providing the platform Elisha is connecting people to learning opportunities that you otherwise couldn’t find. For example if you want to learn the violin but the no local music schools offer violin lessons, or they do but its $100 a lesson — instead you can connect with someone in your community on Learnemy who could teach you the violin, at the agreed upon amount of $25 per lesson. Think of it as a Craigslist for skill learning — on steroids — with a built-in payment platform.
I recently got a chance to (virtually) sit down with Learnemy founder, and skill pimp, Elisha Tan — who talked about Learnemy and her overall entrepreneurial experience:
Can you give me the quick, elevator pitch for Learnemy, your new online learning system?
Learnemy is an awesome way to find instructors for anything you want to learn.
It works like Odesk and Elance. You post what you want to learn, together with your budget and schedule. This post will be sent to people who can teach you, and if anyone is interested, they can make you an offer. You then book and pay over the platform.
What was your inspiration for starting Learnemy?
I believe that people should be able to make a living doing what they like to do. In Singapore, most of us are blessed with shelter, security and food. We should be able to lead meaningful lives. By meaningful, I mean not to feel as though as you are merely a peg wheel keeping the economy going. But I didn’t know how I could materialize a start-up based on this belief.
Then I tried to take a baking class two year ago. As a student living in the East then, there was absolutely no way I would want to pay $80 for a 2-hour class that’s one hour away. So I was thinking that there must be somebody out there in my community who could bake and could teach me at a lower price.
So there comes the nice mash up between belief and problem, and Learnemy was conceptualized.
What is your educational and work background?
I graduated from a local university in 2010 with a degree in Psychology. Then I was enrolled in the Founder Institute. I worked at a couple of startups before going full-time on Learnemy, mostly doing social media marketing.
What are your plans and hopes for Learnemy in the future?
When I created Learnemy, I hope for it to change my society. I’ll be very happy if my users told me that they started a dance school with the money they earned from Learnemy. I hope that my users will tell me that Learnemy helped them chase their dreams. Or that Learnemy helped them through bad economic times. That will make me very, very happy.
If you were a user of Learnemy, what would be the first course that you request?
Baking! I seem to have a talent for producing monsters from my oven, which is really quite upsetting.
How do you feel Learnemy fits into the overall education system?
In Singapore, our education system then to put too much focus on certain subjects, which I understand why it was put in place (to make sure that our nation could survive by having a huge pool of labor specialized in one set of skills) but I don’t agree with it.
Everyone is born unique, so why should we be judged based on a certain set of skills?
I hope to bring income to people with other skills and show young people that even if you are doing badly in school, it doesn’t mean that you are worthless. You are good for something, and you can make money with that skill.
You seem to have a very upbeat attitude, (quirky sense of humor) and healthy outlook on life, where does this come from?
I was bulled in school when I was 14, which led me to becoming really rebellious and angry for a couple of years thereafter before I met God.
My faith gave me a different perspective on the world and on myself. So instead of rebelling against the law, I rebel against the status quo. You see, anger is not the problem; the problem with anger lies with how you use it. You can use it to break boundaries or bones.
What are your biggest challenges as a young entrepreneur?
I have not felt that any obstacles I’m facing now have anything to do with my youth (then again, this can just be youthful naivety). I’m more concerned about shipping a product fast, hiring the right people and customer acquisition. I’m sure other founders, regardless of age, have these concerns too.
How do you see Learnemy growing in the future?
I will get coverage on TechCrunch and it will go viral. Just kidding.
I’m not aiming for explosive growth. Rather, I see Learnemy growing organically and moderately before expanding it overseas.