To have growth in her job title feels apt for Laura Warnier. From having taken language classes since the age of 16, travelling to London and Malta, to studying in the UK, US, Denmark and Spain, she already had a taste for travelling, meeting new people and taking in new cultures.
After an internship in Berlin at Rocket Internet and going back to university, it was her opportunity at Google that really launched her into the tech side of the industry.
“I learnt sales and marketing because I was in the sales team at Google, and that’s how I actually got the expertise needed to enter GoStudent, and move to Austria to their office,” she tells The PIE News.
She was the second employee hired at video-based online tutoring platform GoStudent in its formative years in 2018, hired originally as the chief marketing officer – then, she was the port of call for hiring new salespeople, after seed capital was raised and the need for a head of sales and marketing was all the more evident.
“At the time the product was ready, but they were not making revenue and so we started selling to parents by word of mouth and headhunting. I helped build the marketing team and essentially, our international expansion,” she explains.
GoStudent, Warnier says, wants to be global. To prove to investors that GoStudent was serious, the presence had to expand beyond the DACH region – Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
In the second half of 2020 GoStudent entered markets in France, Belgium and Spain, and within a year it has now entered 15 markets – showing investors that, “yes, we can make it”.
“Our expansion right now is in the next phase of growth, within those main markets”
“In 2022, it’s more about saying, these are the markets we are in – how can we make sure that we really understand the market, keep growing there, and improve our unique economics?” Warnier says.
“Our expansion right now is in the next phase of growth, within those main markets.”
That expansion, she tells The PIE, mostly involves evolving the company’s ethos and bringing new products to the fore.
“We are a company where we’ve had the simple solution – what we built at the beginning was a marketplace, but we also managed it because we always have customer success managers and advisors supporting the customer.
“Now what we are doing is building an entire ecosystem around that position,” she explains.
The aim is to bring gamification into play to “enhance” the children’s experiences, and how GoStudent can use it – as well as acquiring three companies in the last couple of years to continue building that ecosystem.
In terms of GoStudent’s operations, all it needs when it enters a new market is one tutor.
“Once you have the first two or three, you get the first customer and the third or fourth teacher and so on. We have a big community that offers a lot of word of mouth, and in new markets it’s pure marketing strategy – Instagram, TikTok, and so on to research where we can find new clients,” Warnier says.
Tutors are of high calibre on GoStudent – it only accepts the teachers who pass the first exam with at least 80% success, so each tutor really knows what they’re talking about, as well as a following group interview to cement their knowledge of the subject they plan to teach on the platform.
“Being knowledgeable about the subject is one thing, but being able to teach it is another,” she remarks.
“We have a community of 20,000 tutors now, and a team that manages them to make sure we stay at the top of our game, and sort out any issues they have or help with things they may want to learn – so they can also develop further.”
GoStudent now covers over 30 subjects, from primary to high school subjects, and many languages including the likes of Ancient Greek and Latin.
“The main focus is the children, but in some countries we also have some adult learners – mainly university students – which for languages is quite easy, but for example, university students wouldn’t take mathematics on our platform because if you’re already studying economics we don’t have a tutor that teaches at that level,” she explains.
While the idea of expanding subject matter with teachers, opening up to university-level tutoring, it’s not really in the “discussion right” now, but GoStudent are always open to looking forward.
“Being knowledgeable about the subject is one thing, but being able to teach it is another”
“We don’t know what the global school will look like yet – will it be on K12 or will it be lifelong learning? Will it be online? It is another open question? The core product of one-to-one online tutoring for children is [our] main objective in terms of development at the moment,” Warnier says.
In terms of technological development, there are also new ways that GoStudent can gauge student development with technology that the company is looking into.
“We have done some business about testing the emotions on the face of the student and the teacher and seeing how emotions are actually interrelated, and seeing how their reaction to a tutor was very positive – and you can see how focused the student is during classes – which could also help improve our matching system, because instead of waiting for the child to say they like their teacher, you can already see it on their face,” she explains.
While core development is clearly part of GoStudent’s current portfolio, perhaps new technology will continue to improve and expand the company’s offering in the coming years.
“As I say, at the beginning we are a marketplace, and we focused on matching – now we want to improve the entire experience for the students, but also for the parents as well,” she concludes.