Interview: Entrepreneurs in Singapore, Happy Tutors
Hello, my pretties! This lovely little interview has been brought to you by yours truly.
So… we’ve had a recent spate – spanning many years – where us Singaporeans have had a crushing sense of how life in Singapore is completely hopeless and how we’re never gonna make it. Well, today, I’m here to validate that AND show you a ray of hope.
Recently, while wandering around aimlessly in the Lakeside area, I came across this very homely-looking little tuition centre nestled among other tuition centres. The environment was very pleasant and comfortable. The staff there were very friendly and forthcoming as well. Deciding that our parent and student (Well, okay. Just parents. Them students ain’t got no time fo’ dat sht.) readers would be interested in some info on tuition centres, I strutted in likka boss.
Explaining to them that I totally loved you readers and that you guys would be interested in the workings (and dirty secrets) of business startups, they agreed to be interviewed. This is how the interview went. As I am incredibly professional at this, I have taken the creative liberty to create false controversy.
Hi, Jason and Jack. Tell us more about yourselves!
Jason: Hi! My name is Jason. I’m 27 this year. I just graduated from NUS, 2 years ago. I started Happy Tutors Learning Centre with my partner, and my buddy, Jack. We teach all levels, from Primary 1 to JC. *nervous laugh*
Jack: Hi! I’m Jack. *smile*
What’s your main role in the tuition centre?
Jason: I am an educator and businessman. I am also the principal of the centre. I teach and I manage the centre at the same time, full time.
Jack: I come in regularly to do tutoring. Behind the scenes, I make a lot of executive decisions and develop new systems and ideas to improve the centre.
So… you’re named Happy Tutors. That’s a rather unusual name. I mean, normally I see names like “Learning Centre” or “Expert” or “Masters”. Why did you choose the word “Happy”?
Jason: We do not want to associate our company name with anything like “excelling” or “grades” because that is very cliché. That’s what all other tuition centres do. We want to associate our centre with an emotion – happiness and joy – when students come into the tuition centre. So we came up with a very simple and memorable word to describe our tuition centre: Happy.
Wow! Sounds interesting! It seems like after walking around this area, there are a lot of tuition centres around. Any reasons why you chose this place of all places?
Jason: When we started out, we were looking for a place that was close to where we grew up so… this place is suitable because it’s near JJC, where we previously studied. It’s also close to many famous primary schools, the market and MRT. Because of all these factors, we decided to give this place a try.
The competition must be fierce though! Any challenges you’ve faced in the process of building up this tuition centre?
Jack: Well… everything comes with its own set of challenges. We are committed to giving great service and education to our students so the greatest challenge we’ve probably faced is managing both the expectations of the parents and ensuring that learning is a fun experience for the student, and that we don’t overload students with too much homework.
What are the perks to running a tuition centre?
Jason: I get a flexible timing in the week. There’s no need to wear uniforms. I also get to interact with people from all walks of life. I like that because I find face-to-face interaction a whole lot more interesting than deskbound jobs. Lastly, as a businessman, I get to make decisions in my own company which is not likely to happen if I’m an employee outside.
Aha! I see a bit of an independent spirit there! Well… I’ve done some tutoring myself and I’ve faced some parents, and students, from Hell. Any horror stories of your own?
Jason: …wah (insert Singaporean accent) We have a lot of experiences to share. *laugh* We had a student with a very controlling parent. The parent, basically, monitored every activity of the child every hour. Like, she’d send her child to our tuition centre and made sure that all the homework is completed. Sounds pretty okay until you see the actual workload the child had. And we, the tuition centre, were expected to give even more homework on top of that. Another one that we’ve seen is a teenager was completely disinterested in studying. A typical case where the student didn’t want to study but was forced to study. However, this student actually insulted my tutors and gave attitude problems that had to be dealt with. So… these are some of the unusual cases that we have seen so far.
Jack: Sometimes, tutoring is not just about delivering the content but we have to understand who we are dealing with and that there are a lot of (pause) other factors that we have to consider. Um …are you sure we’re allowed to say this?
Oh, no worries. No worries at all. What are your opinions on the current education system and how tuition can help, or affect the lives of students?
Jack: We’ve heard from parents that students are unable to complete their homework, keep up with their grades or achieve a holistic education. I believe Singapore’s education system has its own merits, just that it may not necessarily always be able to cater to the needs of all students. This is where we, as tutors, come in to support that and fill in on the areas that the student needs help in. I believe that tuition centres play a role in the intellectual and emotional development of students and to assist in keeping them competitive in the demands of today’s society.
RANDOM QUESTION! Favourite subject and why?
Jason: My favourite subject is Chemistry because I have been acing it throughout my academic years. *laugh* Because of this area of mastery, I find it very easy to teach and I am able to help students who’ve been failing in this particular subject to ace it within the span of a few months. The satisfaction is there and that is why Chemistry is my favourite subject and continues to be.
Jack: My favourite subject is Physics. Since the beginning of secondary school science, Physics has enabled me to understand that a lot of the things we learn in school can be translated into applications. That has also led me to pursue a degree in Engineering. I want to pass on this passion and understanding to those who I teach.
Great! Any last words for our readers?
Jason: If you are an investor and you want to start a tuition centre, it’s not as easy as it seems. Before you try, you should consult your friends, family and anyone who has done it before to understand the challenges of it. If you are a student, who wants to improve your grades, give us a try.