HSBC Prosperity Hall is delighted to have Mr. Timothy YU, founder of Snapask, as the guest speaker of the first SPECIAL Hall Night Talks in 2017. The sharing took place in Multi-function Hall B on 17 January 2017. The attendance was incredible and filled the venue to overflowing.
Bucking the Trend – the Idea of Snapask
Timothy kicked off the special evening by sharing with us his journey towards a successful entrepreneurship. When he was a Year 2 university student, he set up a small tutoring group for secondary school students. The business expanded quickly. With the support from his friends, they set up a small tutorial centre together. However, after running the centre for 2 years, he realised that it was hard to further scale up the capacity of his business.
“There is a trend in the tutoring industry that many centres attempt to expand their business by opening more classes and replacing live tutors with recorded teaching videos, I wanted to change this trend.” said Timothy.
Timothy went on to explain that the tutoring industry is inefficient as the tutors do not try to understand their students but only focus on spoon-feeding them with exam materials.
To facilitate understanding and efficiency in teaching, Timothy believes that one-on-one teaching is the optimal mode of tutoring. Such belief drove him to think of alternative ways of teaching and learning. For example, he tried to have smaller groups of students every class, instead of a traditional big class with up to 50 persons. However, soon later, he realised that the plan was not feasible. He then turned his head to the possibility of using mobile app to achieve one-on-one teaching-and-learning. This is the skeleton idea of Snapask – a mobile application that is now worthy of HKD$100,000,000.
Today, at the age of 27, Timothy is already the CEO of Snapask Co., a company that have over 150,000 users in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, with a market valuation over one hundred million Hong Kong dollars.
Snapask – The “Uberfication” of Education
Snapask is an allocation to match students with tutors online. It allows students to ask questions and receive replies from tutors within a very short period of time, if not immediately. This mode of tutoring takes care of the special needs of each individual students, and offers unique solution to suit that need.
“We are just like Uber, but for education.” said Timothy.
Aside from his idea, Timothy also generously revealed to the audience his secret method of enhancing tutoring efficiency and user experience of Snapask. Timothy and his team made use of computer programmes to collect and analyse the data of students’ learning behaviours. What’s more, they would ask their users questions to proactively test students’ concepts and understandings towards different topics and types of questions, and their answers would also be collected and analysed. All of these functions can be done just by several clicks, using a smartphone.
“You always fail the first time.”
Despite the great success of Snapask, Timothy’s journey towards success was never all plain sailing. He shared with the audience the not-so-glamorous side of his journey. Before the business was developed into a million-dollar company, Timothy has tested and experimented with different modes in realizing his concepts. For example, he once used a Facebook page as a platform instead of an app. He also set up a website to sell mock papers. Although none of these ideas was adopted in the end, it was these failures that finally built the great success of Snapask.
“You always fail the first time,” Timothy said. “But you should never hesitate to experiment what you believe.” he added.
“Now is always the best time to start.”
Timothy has a clear objective – that is to change something in the current education system. He hated to see students being fed up with standardised materials, and his aim is to provide personalised education to students that is truly helpful to each and individual student.
As a young entrepreneur who first started his business at a timid age, Timothy advised that whoever wants to start their business has to start early – “Now is always the best time to start, start experimenting your assumption and learning how to start the business.”
How did this talk inspire you?
“I try to be more well-rounded in all areas. It’s good to be an expertise in your area, but also open your eyes and be keen to learn everything in other areas.”
– GAO Ya, HSBC Prosperity Hall, Year 2, Creative Media, Mainland China
“You can achieve anything if you really put your mind into it. Timothy is a very young entrepreneur. He started off at our age! He also wasn’t a computer science student, but he ended up being the founder of a mobile application company. It makes me realize that you don’t have to be an expertise in a certain field to be able to succeed in that area.”
– Jason CHAN, HSBC Prosperity Hall, Year 4, School of Law, Hong Kong
How important do you think is IT in our daily life?
“The presence of mobile application has really sunk into our life. We study and workout with the help of mobile apps. It has become a habit and made everything more convenient and easier.”
– Vipul AGARWAL, HSBC Prosperity Hall, Year 3, Environmental Science, India
Based on the testimonies of our resident, it is apparent that the talk was a huge success. Let’s look forward to the next SPECIAL Hall Night Talk!
Writer: Jason CHAN (HSBC Prosperity Hall), Natasya Viona CHANDRA (Jockey Club Harmony Hall)
Photographer: Yikki LAM (Lee Shau Kee Hall)
滙豐業昕堂在本年度舉辦的第一個「業昕之夜」中，榮幸邀得Snapask的創辦人兼行政總裁余佑謙先生（Mr. Timothy YU）分享創業心得。座談會於晚上九時在綜合禮堂B舉行，成功吸引大批宿生參與，場內座無虛席。
Snapask － 教育界的Uber
── GAO Ya（滙豐業昕堂，創意媒體系二年級，來自中國大陸）
── Vipul AGARWAL（滙豐業昕堂，環境科學系三年級，來自印度）
文: 陳可誠 (滙豐業昕堂)、Natasya Viona CHANDRA (賽馬會群萃堂)
圖: 林奕淇 (李兆基堂)