Yasmin Kassem and Haitham Al-Haidari, co-founders of Modaris.me, shed positive light on Qatarís evolving education scene and suggest that the atmosphere for startup is fertile for those with the right ideas
With hundreds, if not thousands, of students each year seeking extracurricular tuition in Qatar, there is a clear demand for quality and reliable home tutors. Haitham Al-Haidari and Yasmin Kassem, co-founders of Modaris.me, talk with Society Magazine about their recently started digital platform and how it contributes to the evolving landscape of Qatar’s education scene. Modaris prides itself on being the simplest and fastest service available, helping students find and book qualified trainers and home tutors in ‘just 3 clicks’.
“Education today is done in a very old school manner so we decided to use some of the latest technologies to make learning easier. There are a huge amount of educational websites available out there but many of them are not really worth as they suggest. We realised that there are elements in social media and entertainment that could be implemented to boost engagement and the overall experience. One of the things we’ve done so far is making it simple in the way that social media is instantly accessible and user friendly. Modaris was designed with this idea in mind. The idea of simple ‘clicking.’ It is just 3 clicks to the end of the process,” Yasmin who was behind the design of the website comments.
“What motivated us was to help students find quality mentors. We’ve all been students and we all need someone who understands what we are going through academically. We wanted to connect students with someone young who could relate and understand the struggles and issues of being a student in today’s world,” Yasmin added.
While there are similar platforms in the region, Modaris’ strengths lie in its simplicity and integration of technology. “Our process is very different from any other player in the market and probably in the world. It is a very simple process from the minute you go to the site to the minute you finish booking. We have an extraordinary record. The best way we found to implement the process was to start with the subject choice (first click), then the tutor information and price listed with their image (second click) and finally the users are directed to the booking page where they input their information and complete the booking (third click). The student is contacted within two hours by the tutor. We just connect both parties and even payment is handled between the student and tutor,” Yasmin sheds more lights on their initiative.
Modaris was recently awarded the most innovative startup at QITCOM technology conference in Doha. “It feels really good. We always believed in our idea but it was nice to see that other people believe in it as much as we do. People trust that this can really help them. It also gave us a lot of support and exposure with new opportunities such as investment talks and providing us with the facilities at the Digital Incubation Centre (DIC) where we are now. It is positive in all aspects and it has positioned us in Qatar in a very nice way that enables us to help even more people, ” Yasmin added.
As Haitham was a tutor himself in the past, and both have learned from their own educational experiences, they convey their understanding that quality teachers are at the core of every educational service. “We have a really comprehensive way of vetting our tutors. We have around 40 new tutors applying online every month and we choose only a few of them after a close review of their resume. We check their planning methods, their tutoring history, their mobility and their price in order to make a full assessment. We also look for creativity. Some people are visual teachers while others are story tellers. Some use really nice real life examples while others use technology or apps to aid their teaching. Ultimately, the average tutor at Modaris is very convincing and has a special touch of some kind,” Haitham says.
Since its inception in September 2015, Modaris has grown considerably and shows signs of strong expansion. “It was all self-funded at first. A kind of ‘garage project’ that was very low budget. We used our knowledge of marketing and business development to funnel our limited funds into very strategic campaigns that made a huge impact. We invested a lot on the site and the user-friendliness of it. From the revenue that was created we invested it back into Modaris in the form of technology. That is why much of the process is automated. Now we hope to use larger capital to expand it in the Middle East.”
“Since it was launched, we have had over 500 students either pass their exams or excel in their subjects. We recently had many calls from mothers who wanted to thank us, one in particular called us up as her son was about to fail and the tutoring we provided really helped him. It is really heartwarming to see the impact. If you come to actually look into other impacts as well as the social benefits, we save people time and money that benefits all parties involved,” Yasmin looks so determined.
In addition to the most common subjects such mathematics and science, their tutors offer many things for both high school and university students, including languages and standardized tests. Interestingly, skills learning like fine art, music and computer programming are very popular now and there are many who sign up just to learn new skills.
The Modaris team commented on the difficulties that they have encountered so far and their prediction for what lies in their future. “One of the main ongoing concerns is keeping the technology up to date. Also, finding qualified tutors can be difficult. Upon further expansion we need to make sure that we don’t neglect the high standard of our tutor admission. Also, finding tutors for certain subjects can be difficult. There is a growth in the demand of subjects like Law and Philosophy and not just in English or Arabic. This is what makes it tough. But in the end we can’t sacrifice the quality of our tutors as this is what people keep coming back to us.”
While the development of their current venture shows signs of keeping the Modaris team more than busy in the near future, they commented on their scope for new projects. “We might be the single organisation that has all this educational data in one place about home tutoring in Qatar and this can be used somehow. Tutoring is usually done separately but we are a central platform that receives all the information and makes reports based on our understanding of the market. Something we also started was Modaris Enterprising Services (MES) where we try to help other educational services get students through us. We see ourselves as a kind of hub linking other related businesses in different ways. Also, one of the things we are working on is the Modaris Cloud, which offers study materials to students. We are working on creating the material and technology to provide this kind of educational experience using smart technologies.”
With this unique perspective of the education scene in Qatar, we asked the Modaris team if they had any final reflections on the educational landscape and their position within it. “Schools sometimes fail to attend to individual needs in a class and there is often no support system that exists outside of this. Independent tutors all around Doha and platforms like us come to solve that issue. In Qatar, people come from different backgrounds and schools with varying curriculums, but each have different strengths. Students usually look for the tutor that is the closest to their educational background, so this works as the diversity of our tutor profiles is very important to us. That is why these days we are really getting out there and trying to find tutors from different parts of Doha to integrate into Modaris. Ultimately, there is some competition in the Middle East but now it comes down to whoever does it better.”
The success of Modaris not only sheds positive light on Qatar’s evolving education scene but also suggests that the atmosphere for startups is fertile for those with the right ideas. Smartly organized initiatives like Modaris are setting an example for today’s generation of young business owners, showing that Qatar is a place where innovation can take place.