Passion plus demand, the perfect equation

LOVE OF LEARNING: Mahya Mirzaei, pictured, and her husband Mitchell Knox are the co-founders of two tutoring startups. Picture: Marina Neil
LOVE OF LEARNING: Mahya Mirzaei, pictured, and her husband Mitchell Knox are the co-founders of two tutoring startups. Picture: Marina Neil

MAHYA Mirzaei’s passion for numbers is lit up in lights in the name of her startup, Love Maths Tutoring. Plain and simple, her obsession with mathematics and how we can adapt big data to drive innovation is infectious.

The 27-year-old co-founder of both face-to-face learning program Love Maths Tutoring and progressive online tutoring service The Learned Hub is also doing all in her power to ensure girls do not feel they can’t or don’t equate with numbers.

“There’s a perception that girls think they are simply not good at maths or as good as guys and for me that’s completely and utterly wrong,” she says.

On October 26, Ms Mirzaei will share the entrepreneurial path she is treading with her husband and startup co-founder Mitchell Knox at Three76 Hub’s Start-up Stories series. Born in Iran, Ms Mirzaei was 16 when she and came to Australia to study.

She completed an aerospace engineer degree – meeting Mr Knox at the same course – then backed up with a Phd in engineering, specifically data analytics for innovation. By that time, Ms Mirzaei and Mr Knox had already founded Love Maths Tutoring, the idea driven by pure demand: “I was passionate about mathematics and all my classmates were struggling with it and I wanted them to see the simplicity and beauty of maths,” she says.

Initially the company’s sole tutor, she soon had 100 students per week and slowly grew the business, which is headquartered in Newcastle and now has close to 500 tutors – all of whom underwent an intensive application process based on their mathematical and teaching ability – on the east coast.

Love Maths Tutoring was, Ms Mirzaei says, “not very scaleable, because good maths teachers are a very scarce resource and we can’t give a good maths teacher to every child.”

Ergo she and her husband created The Learned Hub, a personalised online education program for Year 11 and 12 students.

“Basically our idea is to provide every child in the world with personal tutoring,” she says of the program, which takes the idea of a flipped classroom to a new level. Ms Mirzaei says standard online tutoring tends to be one-size-fits-all video training, however The Learned Hub uses data analytics and machine learning to play an interactive role with a student, quickly detecting when they don’t grasp a concept.

“Our videos basically try to mimic a real tutor … it’s a pre-recorded video but then our system keeps asking questions and according to that it changes video. It constantly changes to suit what a person knows and don’t know and finds and fills in the gaps,” she says.

The Learned Hub will be expand nationally in 2018.