Entrepreneur

'Airbnb for tutoring' startup Tutorspree shuts down

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Tutorspree won’t be offering tutor matchups anymore. The Y-Combinator backed startup announced today that it is shutting down .

“When we started Tutorspree, close to three years ago, we had a vision for how private education should work,” the founders said in a blog post. “Ultimately, we learned about the challenges of willing a company into existence, of building an incredible and unique team to tackle constantly shifting challenges. And finally, we learned about how to make the toughest decision of all — to shut Tutorspree down, not because it was not a business, but because we could not make it the company we wanted.”

Tutorspree was founded three years ago as the “Airbnb for tutoring.” The company used a matching algorithm along with human educational consultants to match students with “the perfect” tutor. The marketplace contained more than 5,000 tutors across Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Brooklyn, Washington DC, and Los Angeles.

Educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom found the average student tutored one-to-one performed significantly better than students taught with conventional classroom methods. Tutoring is an important part of education, particularly for students who don’t learn well in large classroom or lecture environments. Tutorspree’s goal was to make learning more personal. Private tutoring is expensive, and finding a well-matched tutor can be a challenge.

In a guest post he wrote for VentureBeat, CEO Aaron Harris said that despite the rise of online education and the opportunities created by Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), education can’t/shouldn’t be completely digital.

“These kids and their parents tell us every day that they need a real person to teach them, to learn with them, to react in real time to errors and successes, and to provide the kind of personal warmth and encouragement that computers cannot provide.”

Accessible and affordable tutoring services are in high-demand, and accordingly there are a number of online services that seek to match students with tutors. InstaEDU recently secured $4 million for its online tutoring service, and other competitors include Tutors.com, Tutor Matching Service, Eduwizards, Edoboard, and large corporate tutoring services like Sylvan and Kaplan.

Tutorspree went through Y Combinator’s Winter 2011 class and raised $2.2 million. It raised a $1 million seed round in 2011 from Sequoia Capital, Founder Collective, Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, Thrive Capital, Alexhis Ohanian, and others, and added $800,000 from Resolute.vc earlier this year.


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