Brisbane startup Vygo helps solve students’ two biggest gripes: study and cash

10 April 2017

startup Vygo receives grant from Lord Mayor's Budding Entrepreneurs Program

Attention uni students. Crack open your best 2-Minute Noodle stash and rejoice, for Brisbane startup Vygo has the medicine to help you understand just what the hell your lecturer is talking about and let you make some sweet coin on the side.

Vygo’s app connects students with course-specific private tutors and allows students to become private tutors in subjects they have already completed, injecting some much needed spare cash into scholars’ wallets.

It’s the first and only platform of its kind in Australia, and it makes tutoring a viable income source for university students.

Vygo founder Ben Hallett says he likes to think of it as a university hack.

“There’s no need for students to fail subjects, especially with the crazy fees involved, so we’re providing a cheap and easy way for students to get the help they need,” Ben says.

The idea for Vygo came to Ben one night when a friend of his came to him stressed about an upcoming exam.  “She was completely overwhelmed by the lecturer’s material and had no idea what she should be studying,” he says.

“I remembered that another friend of mine had completed that course the previous year and a few phone calls later I was able to connect them.

“After 30 minutes together my friend was able to calm herself, develop a plan and ultimately go on to ace that exam.”

In Australia, up to one third of university students are dropping out of their university degrees, with academic and financial hardships being two of the leading causes.

Vygo supports Australian students financially by allowing them to earn money as private tutors in courses they’ve completed. It also helps them academically by giving them access to tutors who can support them, on-demand and at rates that fit a university budget.

Since beginning work on Vygo in 2016, Ben says it has been a constant learning experience, having to learn new skills, juggle tasks and think critically about business, vision and team morale. But despite that, he’s found the Brisbane startup ecosystem supportive.

“We’ve been really lucky here in Brisbane to have a startup community that is supportive and open to sharing hard-learned lessons. We’ve learnt from other founders many a time,” Ben says.

Vygo launched its mobile app six weeks ago (on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store) to students at the University of Queensland, and has since onboarded 1051 tutors across 481 University of Queensland courses.

Ben Hallett is one of nine grant recipients from Round 7 of the Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneurs Program. He used the grant funds to participate in an accelerator program with Pitchblak.

“The Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneurs Program grant came to us at a time when we needed to surround ourselves with a team of advisors, so we invested the funds with Pitchblak,” he says.

“They’ve coached, mentored and advised us over the last three months as we released our first product.”

Vygo is working on expanding its reach to all South East Queensland Universities, with the goal to scale nationally over the next 12 months. Check out the app here.

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