The toughest part of building a company like Tutor.com is that the vast majority of people (students, parents, teachers, school administrators) who would benefit most from the new idea of on demand tutoring, have no idea that what we do 5,000 times each night is even possible.
You may be thinking, yeah sure, another web company with another idea they think will change the world. Exactly! iTunes and iPods changed us. eBay, Google, NetFlix and ETrade changed the way we buy, sell, find info, see ads, watch movies, manage our finances. Isn't it time someone came around with a better way to learn every day.
Yes, colleges and universities, and even virtual high schools have allowed students of all ages to learn more conveniently by taking courses online. But I'm talking about every day learning -- immediate, empowering, there when you need it learning. What the Internet is great for -- no appointments, no waiting for help kind of learning.
Imagine for a minute that you're stuck in your car in a ditch on the side of the road and you call AAA. You expect the rep on the phone to tell you that a truck will be out there to help you in 15 minutes. What if the rep gave you a different answer: "We'll schedule an appointment for your tow truck to arrive next Tuesday at 6pm". Until then, you have to stay stuck and figure something else out.
That is the answer millions of students have to figure out how to be satisfied with every night -- they're stuck and not in small numbers -- with algebra homework, a chemistry take home quiz, a history report they have to submit and don't know how to start, a tough geometry problem they need to understand before a test in 2 days. "Don't worry" we tell them, "Help is on its way next Tuesday at 6pm". Help, in the form of an appointment with a tutor, a scheduled office hours session with a classroom teacher, a group tutoring session at a learning center. They're used to getting that answer, so they don't demand something better.
But millions of students (and their parents) are screaming out for help -- "I need help now, not next Tuesday at 6pm". I want the tow truck to get here in 15 minutes, not in 4 days, as you would tell the rep on the phone. Even more unfortunately, families don't have a rep on the phone to yell at, so they yell at each other, every night, because of the angst and frustration when parents can't help their struggling kids with homework or a test, and the kids fall behind little by little and lose confidence in themselves.
Most kids and parents just don't know that getting help the minute they need it is possible.
Yesterday, we issued two press releases -- you can read them at http://www.tutor.com/press/press_releases.aspx. First, announcing that we provided on demand help to kids 112,438 times in the last month. Those are big numbers, bigger than any other online tutoring company, but nothing compared to the number of kids and families that needed help out of the millions of students that got stuck on something last month. Secondly, announcing that we're seeing real hard proof that not only do the students and parents feel great about the on demand one-to-one help they're getting, but that help is resulting in real performance improvements. The kind of improvement that will lead to better grades, and being able to go to get into a great college.
Now we've got to figure out how to get the word out to 50+ million other students in the US who will get stuck on something at some point this school year, and wished that help was available in minutes instead of 4 days, which is often as good as never. That's a challenge I, and the team at Tutor.com is very much up for...
George Cigale, firstname.lastname@example.org