Most of the activities we engage in today are on-demand, i.e. - available to us when and where we need them. Whether it is ordering food online, hailing a ride or watching our favourite TV show at our desired time, consumers are encouraging businesses to reimagine their services.
In fact, the rise of the gig economy contributed significantly to increasing demand for on-demand services. In a gig economy, individuals work on a short-term notice and contract basis, instead of working full time as permanent workers.
While such a model has been extensively used in freelance marketplaces, food delivery and ride sharing platforms, in 2005, Chegg Inc envisioned incorporating this model in education.
Chegg is an on-demand online learning platform that aims to help students achieve better grades and save time and money. At the heart of its business model, Chegg has two core offerings - Chegg Services and Chegg Book Rental.
Historically, the company has continuously strived to provide adaptive and personalised academic solutions to students. However, ever since most academic activities shifted online, the company has been on a high growth streak.
In Q1, 2021, as the company beat growth estimates of market analysts, its share price surged to an all-time high of $ 115.21 per share.
In 2020, Chegg's revenues shot up 67% YoY. During the year, customer growth rate has more than doubled to 69% per quarter between Q2, 2020 and Q1, 2021 (during pandemic).
Compared to this, average quarterly subscriber growth during the corresponding quarters a year before was 32% per quarter (pre-pandemic).
From roughly 2M users in 2019, Chegg, today, has 4.77M users. Evidently, Chegg's offerings have struck a chord with students.
Chegg's primary service offering, Chegg Services, has a wide variety of sub-services such as plagiarism checker, study packs and tutoring. However, the most value-added service is Chegg Study.
Chegg Study allows students to access a database of 59M, step by step, textbook solutions. Additionally, it allows students to get their questions answered by experts.
Currently, there are 70,000 vetted experts who answer students' questions through the platform, a majority of whom are freelance experts, i.e., gig workers, and are based in India.
Experts on the platform have degrees ranging from business, math, science, technology and engineering, who take as little as 15 minutes to respond to a question asked by a student, according to a 2021 Forbes report.
According to Chegg India, these freelance experts, also known as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are paid between $ 2.35 (Rs. 197) for answering each question on advanced topics and $ 1.00 (Rs 75) for answering basic questions.
However, these fees are adjusted based on students' ratings and Chegg's internal evaluation, which aims to ensure answers are correct and understandable.
On the other hand, Chegg Book Rental allows students to buy and rent books or e-textbooks. To make even hardcopy rentals or purchases real time, the company gives the student access to an e-textbook version of the book immediately, which is accessible until the delivery of the hardcopy is made.
Finally, in 2021, Chegg has also announced introduction of University. University will allow approved educators and professors to share content, such as lecture materials and videos. On Uversity, not only will professors be compensated for sharing their content but also will retain ownership of their content.
Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg Inc, believes that Uversity will enable more than 100M students around the world to get access to high quality learning material from credible sources.
Globally, on average, 32 weeks of in class academic activities have been wiped off due to the pandemic. The story is the same for Bangladesh, as it hits the grim milestone of 500 days of education institute closure on July 31st, 2021. Students, teachers and parents unanimously agree that online education cannot match the effectiveness and quality of in class learning.
In the first quarter of 2021 only, textbook solutions were viewed 365M times by the 4.77M users on Chegg. This equates to roughly 76 solutions viewed in the quarter by each student. This indicates how critical such services have become for students all across the world.
Students here in Bangladesh are also scrambling to gain access to Chegg. Unfortunately, access requires making payments using a credit card. This has curbed accessibility of students from this part of the world but at the same time has presented an opportunity for local ed-techs to close the ever-widening gaps in online-offline learning quality mismatch by offering such services .
However, with all the good that comes with the internet and technology, inevitably comes challenges and risks. While Chegg has risen to become the most valuable ed-tech company in the US, International Journal for Educational Integrity has flagged the site, stating that students are using Chegg for cheating during exams.
The paper titled "Contract cheating by STEM students through a file sharing website: a Covid-19 pandemic perspective" published on the journal in February, 2021, made such conclusions based on the rapid increase in exam style questions requested on the platform and a staggering 193% increase in solutions requested in April to August 2020 period, as compared to the same period during 2019.