TutorSpree: This was my idea

I received an email the other about a job offer for tutoring.
This is what it read: “Tutorspree.com is offering select UCLA students an easy way to earn extra income as they begin their job search. Tutorspree…[is] an online tech-startup that connects students with local tutors. Our top tutors earn thousands of dollars a month on a part time basis and we would like to invite you to join our growing community. Unlike a traditional tutoring agency, our tutors determine their own hourly rates and schedules and never have to opt into a contract. Once you sign up, Tutorspree gets to work advertising your talents and sending great students your way.”
- www.tutorspree.com

Back in the junior year of high school, I found out one of my good friends was tutoring at a rate of $25 an hour. After I overcame my shock of her income, I became determined to grab a slice of this pie and found myself a few tutor clients. But I recognized this whole student tutor system had a ridiculous amount of potential. Current tutoring companies charged about $50/hour and usually passed less than 40% of these earnings to their employees. So I came up with a solution. I came up with this amazing idea called Studyhaven.com.

The concept was this: some students need tutors, and some students want to tutor. Lets connect the two of them and monetize the entire scenario. It would be efficient, because StudyHaven would essentially be the enabler and connector that allowed people to become tutors and find tutors.
Think about it. It was beautiful. This was the pitch, “Is your child struggling with a class or a difficult teacher? I aced that class with that teacher. I know how to learn it. I know what does work and what doesn’t work. I know how the tests are organized. I know what to study. For $25/hour, I can teach your child how to do what I did.” And this pitch worked.

It was a great idea, but I lacked the real technical knowledge to create an online system. I made myself a non-dynamic website over Winter Break and struggled around with the complex interactive features before realizing websites were considerably more difficult to create than I thought.
I got backing from my school career counselors and found a few friends who wanted to be involved. We all got clients and charged around $25/hour to tutor students who were struggling in classes we had all aced. This is when I realized there were several issues.

1) I would have a problem with enforcing monetization. I wouldn’t be taxing the few friends that I started with, but I would want to if we expanded to other tutors. How would I take fees from other tutors that I didn’t know? If StudyHaven grew to other schools, it would be more and more difficult to track, hold accountable, and accurately charge other students fees for hosting them together. I wanted to create an automated system that required little work from me. I have realized that this is not possible. Furthermore, the beauty of a student-student tutoring is flexibility. I feared establishing a formal external system that allowed StudyHaven to fully capitalize of tutoring hours would decrease the actual amount of clients and restrict the whole process.
2) There was very little incentive for tutors to stay with StudyHaven. As I quickly found out, tutoring is a very easy job to break into. With one client, I was making $75 a week for 3 hours of work. Clients usually lasted a full semester. With one good recommendation, my work and pay doubled. StudyHaven would allow tutors the ability to break into this market, but once a tutor established their system, they would lack a true need to stay with StudyHaven.

So while I did make myself a pretty penny from charging 2-3 clients $25/hour 2 hours a week, I never really got StudyHaven off the ground. I never spent time and effort ironing out all the loopholes and failures in my idea, even if I realized that someone could capitalize of the market of student-student tutoring. I am not entirely sure how TutorSpree.com monetizes by connecting tutors to students, but it exists and seem to be running well.

This taught me that ideas are only as good as the execution and implementation. Ideas are free, but execution will cost you. Thinking and sitting on ideas and either not acting or executing poorly will get you nowhere. Think, Do.

Jason

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