After finding success building adaptive learning apps for students in her own classroom, Thea Myhrvold, Diploma Programme (DP) at Skagerak International School, Norway, saw an opportunity to create learning opportunities for people everywhere. It has since led to building two companies TeachMENow and GetBEE. She responds to our Q&A below:
“I recognized how modern technology could help streamline this transfer of knowledge in an efficient and simple way”
What inspired you to build TeachMeNow and GetBEE?
My quest for making knowledge accessible and creating positive impact.
My passion for education was heightened when I started teaching students with learning disabilities. These students faced challenges such as ADHD and dyslexia and in their final year of the IB diploma had given up on the possibility of passing their exams, which determine acceptance to university. Within a few months of adaptive teaching, the students were receiving above average results! Their teacher was shocked that this had actually worked.
During this process I created games for the students and soon realized that this was a real hit. As I, too, became more addicted to my smartphone and apps, I recognized how modern technology could help streamline this transfer of knowledge in an efficient and simple way. The games that I created for my students inspired me to develop the world’s first gamified educational app covering high school material. This app was the first in its kind, which was specialized in subjects like economics, and is available on the
Through this app, I got numerous requests for teaching from all around the world—Japan, Korea, Australia and the U.S.; the list goes on! This also helped me realize that there was no “airbnb” or “uber” for learning and the exchange of knowledge on a global scale, for everyone to share their knowledge or learn. There was no website that I was comfortable teaching on because they either set my rate for me, took 40 % (or more) commissions or didn’t let me create my own courses, etc. I wanted to create a simple tool that have everything I needed in one space, that took care of payments, documents and the actual lessons and was accessible for teachers, students and parents.
“Business is about people and finding the right people on this journey has been one of the hardest but most important elements”
Once we launched TeachMeNow, a lot of schools and companies came to us looking to build their own on-demand platforms, using the software of TeachMeNow but with their own brand, experts and business model. When the market gives you this kind of feedback, you listen! We launched the software as a service, under the name—GetBEE—where our mission is to Bring Expertise Everywhere. We are now able to better serve companies, schools, training institutes and even clinics and hospitals and how they digitally transform the way they exchange knowledge.
One of my proudest projects has been working in Latin America in partnership with a social enterprise called Incluyeme and Accenture. Our GetBEE platform is offered as an online training platform for people with disabilities to get live and personalized mentorship around career coaching, cv writing and financial training. The goal is to connect individuals to the right mentor, where and when they need support the most. The fact that we are based in the Middle East and are already able to have a global impact in places like Latin America is really inspiring to me!
We have also seen some amazing local uses of GetBEE in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region in partnership with HRH Sheik Mohammed, on an initiative called One Million Arab Coders. GetBEE is used as the official technology platform to connect coding students to live mentors all over MENA! You can get personalized one to one coaching from a mentor, edit code together and build out your next app or website!
What is the most significant challenge facing aspiring entrepreneurs in the Middle East or the UAE?
The biggest challenges are the same regardless of location. In the start-up world, there are so many unknowns, risks and challenges that you can never be ready for. Business is about people and finding the right people on this journey has been one of the hardest but most important elements. The right people share and believe in the vision and have their own passion for what you are building. There is a lot of truth in the saying, “company culture eats strategy for breakfast.” If you have the right culture and attract the right people, then you will grow your company organically and as a team know that you can together overcome obstacles together.
I would say the Middle East is an interesting dynamic to build an enterprise. The UAE in particular is so international that you don’t have one target demographic or typical user, so this makes the UAE a great place to test new products and services and it also comes with a lot of challenges!
What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned in the past three years?
“Keep testing, keep learning and keep going.”
Just do it! So many people when starting and then running business, have what I call “paralysis by analysis.” If you over analyze and start doubting yourself, you will never get ahead. Accept that achieving something is better than waiting until something is perfect, because nothing will ever be 100% perfect in the start. The fact that you start and keep going is what makes you get a head of everyone else. Keep testing, keep learning and keep going.
In what ways has an IB education supported your career?
Critical thinking, international perspectives and global impact are key skills I learned in the DP. In addition to the DP curriculum, I am so happy that I participated in certain CAS activities like Model United Nations. The debate practice gave me the skills I needed for media training that I use today when I speak on panels or do TV interviews.
The international perspective has given me the foundation of my work. The long-term projects like the extended essay and CAS activities taught me perseverance and to think long term. I am forever grateful that I did the DP as it gave me the solid foundation as well as the international approach that I need.
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