'A personal tutor in your pocket': How a Memorial University student built an app that is supporting international students around the world - New Canadian Media
Collins Chukwuma introduces ScanSolve at Memorial University. - Contributed.

‘A personal tutor in your pocket’: How a Memorial University student built an app that is supporting international students around the world

'I thought that this is something the world needed,' says Collins Chukwuma.

When Collins Chukwuma, originally from Nigeria, landed in St. John’s in December 2020, he had two goals.

The first was to complete his college education. The second was to start a business.

What he didn’t foresee, though, was how developing a tool to help overcome the problems he was facing as an international student would become an internet sensation and a business success.

Challenges international students face

“Education in Canada as an international student is very difficult,” Chukwuma acknowledges, citing factors that can hinder newcomers’ performance, such as fast-paced lectures and the relentless need to catch up with basic content they hadn’t learned before, even though faculty members assumed they knew it.

Even the diversity of accents, Chukwuma says, can be an issue for some, as can the lack of availability that many professors have for office hours.

“With many of them, it is complicated to get an appointment because they are usually very busy,” he says, pointing out that students often have to fend for themselves without much academic support.

Personalizing the learning experience

Chukwuma’s solution to these challenges was to develop ScanSolve, an app that allows students to get help with an assignment simply by snapping a photo of any problem or question they are struggling with.

Unlike other platforms, ScanSolve not only provides the answer, but also guides the user through a detailed explanation so that they can understand the rationale behind the correct response and hone their problem-solving skills.

The ScanSolve app boasts AI-powered capabilities, including live chat, and guides students through a detailed explanation of the problem they are solving. – Contributed

“With ScanSolve, we eliminate the need of endlessly browsing on Google, YouTube, and all these platforms looking for help,” he says, adding that ScanSolve AI’s capabilities allow it to enhance the learning experience by meeting students where they are and providing customized support, including through an AI-powered live chat.

ScanSolve’s hyperpersonalization, powered by a proprietary technology based on their Large Language Model, can be described as a sort of Netflix model of learning, where the more you use it, the smarter it gets about your preferences when it comes to instruction and devices.

Reducing language barriers

Clarissa Jones, who moved to Atlantic Canada from the United Kingdom and frequently tutored university students, is familiar with the obstacles that non-native English speakers face.

“I remember working with a business student, and getting the perception that she was very lost,” says Jones, who now lives in Toronto.

“Digging in, I realized that the problem was that there was too much new terminology that she needed to learn, so we needed to explain that first and then move on to the problem itself. Once I adopted that approach, she flew.”

As a newcomer himself, this is an issue that Chukwuma has taken to heart.

ScanSolve’s AI features allow it to provide tailored help based on the student’s language preferences, study history, and even age.

Through machine learning, ScanSolve is constantly learning more about the student’s habits, including those aspects of a problem that tend to create more complications, and addresses them accordingly.

Collins Chukwuma, a tech enthusiast by nature, built five apps prior to developing ScanSolve. “Tech is in my DNA,” he said. – Contributed

‘Something the world needed’

ScanSolve wasn’t originally meant to become a business.

“I built it for me, to help me get through school, and I shared it with some friends to help them also,” says Chukwuma, who, at the time, was working on a mobile self-checkout solution and encountering many obstacles along the way.

“After getting very positive feedback, I realized that if this could help a few of us, maybe it could help many others around the world. I thought that this is something the world needed,” he says.

Viral video

Leveraging his knowledge of social media, Chukwuma put together a video that compared ScanSolve to other platforms and posted it on TikTok.

The video became viral, tallying over two million views, and catapulting the company’s path to profitability.

“We’ve been lucky that we’ve been generating revenue since Day 1,” says Chukwuma, who remembers being able to develop the first version in only three weeks.

“Tech is in my DNA, so I have been building websites since I was in junior school. I built five apps prior to creating ScanSolve.”

‘My dreams are coming true’

Chukwuma, who is working on his venture in conjunction with finishing his degree — a major in computer science and a minor in business — intends for ScanSolve to become “a personal tutor in your pocket,” and so far, he is succeeding.

ScanSolve now boasts over 300,000 users in the United States — its primary market right now; Canada is second — and has also gained traction in countries like India.

As he reflects on his journey, and the progress he has made so far since setting foot in Canada, one sentence is enough to define it all.

“My dreams are coming true,” he says.

Story and photos were produced in partnership between New Canadian Media and Saltwire.

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Javier Ortega-Araiza has multiple global experiences as a storyteller and social entrepreneur having travelled to over 30 countries. Now based in Toronto, he is a published author in both English and Spanish." 


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