Passing on a passion for education

Passing on a passion for education

In an increasingly competitive global education market, additional tutoring for schoolchildren has become the norm. But it has not always been accessible or affordable. With his edtech startup, GoStudent, Felix Ohswald aims to unlock the full potential of every child.

In 2015, Felix Ohswald, then aged 20, already held two Mathematics degrees (the second from the University of Cambridge) and was studying a Masters in Quantitative Finance at ETH Zürich. He had academia in his blood, thanks to a grandfather who shared his passion for computer science, so when his younger brother asked for help with his schoolwork, he was happy to oblige. When his brother’s classmates requested help, too, Ohswald set up a group on a messaging platform to field questions.

Within weeks it had snowballed, with hundreds of schoolchildren firing over questions. Ohswald approached Gregor Müller, another young entrepreneur: “We realised, actually, we are sitting on something here.” With the support of some angel investors, the pair planned to develop an educational Q&A service for students, but it soon became clear that the potential for a tech-driven tutoring service was far bigger than that.

 In 2016 Ohswald and Müller founded GoStudent, an edtech startup that aims to provide accessible one-to-one video tuition. Today, this “global digital school” is researching the potential of AI in education, operates in 15 countries and has raised €590 million in funding.

Felix Ohswald, co-founder and CEO of GoStudent, an edtech startup that aims to provide accessible tuition to schoolchildren worldwide

In recent decades the education sector has transformed into a competitive, globalised marketplace. In 14 OECD countries, about half of 25 to 34 year-olds now hold a degree; and this alone no longer guarantees a desirable job. The pressure to achieve has never been higher and tutoring, once the domain of the wealthy, has become normalised. In Germany 40 per cent of children receive private tutoring; in Greece, where state schooling is less trusted, it is more like 90 per cent. In Britain parents spend £2 billion annually on tutoring for their children.

The pandemic, which left many students playing catch-up, has accelerated this trend, along with the adoption of virtual learning. To Ohswald, we are at an “inflection point”, and GoStudent intends to disrupt the traditional tutoring market. “You can make quality education accessible at a much lower cost than it was 10 to 15 years ago,” he says.

Technology is at the heart of GoStudent. The platform offers 50-minute video calls at an affordable price point. These take place one-on-one in a virtual classroom with a digital whiteboard. Parents (or students) can schedule lessons flexibly with an online calendar and keep track of progress with analytics on learning goals and development. Tutors are assigned according to the child’s needs, which saves parents scouring the marketplace for the right person (and can be replaced quickly if needed). While traditional in-person tuition depends on the quality of teachers in your locale, GoStudent provides access to 23,000 registered, skills-assessed tutors and books more than 1.5 million sessions a month. Ohswald’s fervent techno-optimism has also led GoStudent to trial the use of emotion-analysis tools; teachers that show positive emotions encourage better engagement, “which you know intuitively makes sense… but we can provide this quantitative data to better train teachers”.

While AI – particularly language-learning models, such as Chat GPT – threatens to upend many industries, Ohswald believes that it stands to bolster the edtech sector. GoStudent predicts the market for AI in education will balloon in the coming years. If it successfully taps into it, a substantial increase in revenue – perhaps as high as 40 per cent – will follow. Using AI to help tailor lesson plans, for example, will free up more time for the one-to-one tuition itself. “GoStudent has a strategic vision for integrating AI into its business, rather than treating it as a threat,” he continues.

GoStudent offers one-to-one video tutorials in a virtual classroom with a digital whiteboard

Education is not the easiest marketplace to profit from. Only a handful of education companies, Oshwald says, make more than a billion euros in revenue each year, “then it becomes quite thin”. If you provide solutions to schools: “there are long sales cycles, often it needs to be very localised and so it is hard to expand to other countries…”. Then there’s the challenge of getting teachers and administrators on board. “Finding a business model that allows you to generate revenue and scale up is very tricky in that space.” Ohswald encountered some of these obstacles as GoStudent began its rapid expansion. In 2019 it scaled to more than 20 markets, but needed to exit from some of them, such as the US, where tutoring is more focused on standardised test preparation – and tends to be paid for by school facilities. “In some countries it would have taken too long to pivot the model, so we will try again later either organically or by acquisition,” he explains.

Having been conceived as a digital-first operation, GoStudent is preparing for a hybrid education model. In Germany, GoStudent acquired Studienkreis, an offline tutoring business that was founded in 1974 and has more than a thousand centres across the DACH region. It offers 1:4 ratio lessons at a more affordable price – reaching an even wider customer base – but also points to a future for the company in which customers in all its markets can choose between online or in-person lessons. Ohswald realised the significance of trust in building an education brand: bricks-and-mortar centres and real-life connections can help accelerate that process. “I strongly believe that hybrid is the right approach,” says Ohswald. “By infusing online into the offline world, you can create even more value.”

Felix Ohswald

Co-founder and CEO of GoStudent

Graduates from the University of Vienna with a BA Mathematics


Completes a BA (Hons) Mathematics at the University of Cambridge


Sets up a digital group helping his brother’s friends with their schoolwork, while simultaneously studying for a Master’s degree in Quantitative Finance at ETH Zürich


Co-founds GoStudent with close friend Gregor Müller and takes on the role of CEO


Named on the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe technology list; and GoStudent is valued at €3 billion

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