Searching for the right tutor is like searching for a boyfriend or girlfriend — you have to be compatible and able to communicate. Finding the right person can be a struggle.
Tutor Matching Service has spent three years building a marketplace that connects students and tutors. The startup has formed partnerships with over 30 universities around the U.S. that use the platform to facilitate their tutoring programs.
Founder Ethan Fieldman told VentureBeat that it is still difficult for students, parents, and university staff to make good tutoring matches. Companies that offer professional tutoring services like Kaplan, Kumon, and Sylvan are expensive, and the tutor only gets a percentage of the fee. Searching for a tutor independently through social media, message boards, and word-of-mouth is inconvenient and often unreliable. Schools, Fieldman said, often lack the resources necessary to build their own centralized, robust, tutoring marketplace, which is where Tutor Matching Service steps in.
“As tutors, it was a huge pain to have to market one’s self, and getting regular students was difficult,” he said. “At the same time, it was clear to all of us that [some] students look for tutors and never find one. Never before has there been the ability to book a university-certified tutor, and never has there been a transparent marketplace endorsed by universities.”
Tutors that are trained and certified by the schools sign up for free and set their own hourly rates. Students can search, schedule, book, and pay the tutors. The site includes ratings, mutual friends, and messaging, and sessions are either conducted in person or online. The average price is $12 an hour, which Fieldman said is far cheaper than the corporate tutoring rates, and Tutor Matching Service charges tutors a 10 percent booking fee.
Fieldman cited a study by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom that found the average student tutored one-to-one using mastery learning techniques performed significantly better than students taught with conventional classroom methods. Tutoring is an important part of education, particularly for students that don’t learn well in large classroom or lecture environments. Furthermore, mastery of more advanced subjects often requires more personalized attention. Fieldman said universities were begging for a simple, scalable way to connect students with tutors, and Tutor Matching Service was able to bring universities and tutors on board with a minimum viable product and without much promotion.
Tutor Matching Service works with partners including Purdue, NYU Polytechnic, and CalTech. It is now open to all parents, students, and universities. In addition to financing from universities, the startup has also received funding from Andreessen Horowitz, 500 Startups, Learn Capital, Trinity Ventures, Maveron, and others.