By Catherina Cuervo
Thanks to the Internet, millions of students around the world have free access to online tools and information to deal with their learning challenges. However – infact and despite the unthinkable power that search engines have gained – it is common to find a large amount of unverified, unreliable and superficial information. And this gets even more notorious when it comes to complex fields of study such as math.
According to the study ‘Contributions to the teaching of math’ published by UNESCO (2016), which shows the results of third to sixth grade students of primary school from 15 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, only 36 percent of students can solve basic math problems despite the fact that their curriculums are designed for solving them in a few minutes.
Aware of this, and having faced as a student the problem of not finding guided, concrete and fast answers on the Internet, the Colombian entrepreneur Felipe Campos decided to create Tarefa, an online platform capable of working this out. Although it was initially thought for mathematical questions in Spanish, its fast users growth and the increasing demand for answers in other subjects soon led it to include physics and chemistry, and other languages such as English and Portuguese.
With a platform’s MVP Felipe gained a place in the acceleration program of Startup Chile, where he met the Peruvian developer Edwin González, currently the company’s CTO. Together, they made the adjustments to build a strong and scalable product. Since then, Tarefa’s good reception and growth has led it to receive support from world-class accelerators such as Wayra from Telefónica Open Future and 500 Startups Latam.
But how does Tarefa work? After signing up for free with Facebook or email, the user can ask a first question without paying for it. Once this occurs, the platform makes a match with the most suitable teacher to solve it within the next seven minutes. At the end, the user must rate the solution received. Purchasing weekly, monthly or annual plans – at a 70% lower cost than a private class – is required to make more questions.
But beyond giving an answer, Tarefa offers a guide to situate the student on a specific topic, a step-by-step solution so that he understands how to get to it and an advice so that the he can solve similar questions in the future. This is the real differential value: to provide a complete orientation capable of making sense and be applied in other problems. In other words, it is education rather than information.
“We work to give a solution in which the student can live the process of learning from the answer, breaking the current model of learning from the problem. By getting started from the answer the student builds new learning patterns that help identify solutions in an easier way. Bringing this mindset to the region has been a real challenge”, explains Felipe.
Today, the startup has more than 100,000 registered users from Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and the U.S., and more than 2,500 teachers from Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. It launched in 2016 its Android mobile app, available on Google Play as Tarefa Inc., which by the second half of 2017 will also be available for iOS. For this year Tarefa also seeks to consolidate its operations in the U.S., Mexico and Colombia, to sell 8,000 credit plans per month and to become the regional leader of questions and answers in STEM fields.