Tutoring service matches students with teachers
Published 12:00 am, Sunday, December 18, 2016
NEW CANAAN — Middleman, broker, matchmaker: There’s a lot of ways to describe Steve Eno, founder of Teachers Who Tutor, a service that matches students who need extra help with tutors around Fairfield County.
Eno, a consumer marketer, got the idea for his business after being let go from a startup company.
“I started thinking what are the types of things I can do on my own?” he said. “What a lot of people suggested was to think about your own life and what challenges you’ve had where you’ve said ‘Okay, there has to be a better way to do it.”
For Eno, the challenge was finding a chemistry tutor for his daughter, then a sophomore at New Canaan High School. Eno looked at online services, but found a lot of the offerings consisted of graduate students or people who majored in chemistry in college years before.
“It wasn’t someone who either knew the curriculum or knew how to teach,” he said. “I looked at all the different services out there, both national and local, and came to the conclusion that hardly anyone has teachers who you think would make the best tutors.”
Eno began asking around and found out many teachers are interested in offering help to students, but don’t tutor through tutoring services, because many take a large cut of their pay. After talking to more teachers, Eno found many would be interested in a service where they could reach more students without having to give up a portion of their profits. Eno combined this need with the struggle he had with finding his own daughter academic help and came up with the idea of Teachers Who Tutor.
Parents who use Teachers Who Tutor pay Eno a one-time $100 fee for a guaranteed match with one tutor. Once families have been matched, Eno steps out so the parents and tutors can decide on pricing and scheduling details. Teachers set their own rates and families can decide their own schedules, depending on if their child needs long term tutoring or tutoring for a shorter period of time. Teachers take no pay cut and Eno profits from the matching fee.
For more information on Teachers Who Tutor, go to www.teacherswhotutorct.com
Since starting the company in October, Eno has had over 100 teachers sign up. He said not only do many teachers enjoy offering extra help to students, but many appreciate a service where they can not only keep their profits, but also be open to wider market of students to tutor.
Teachers generally are permitted to tutor their own students, so many interested in tutoring end up being limited to other students in their school or marketing themselves through word of mouth. It also allows teachers who might live far away from where they teach to reach students in their own towns.
Mark Stepsis, a Darien High School teacher who teaches economics, advanced placement human geography and American History said he’s tutored in the past and enjoyed it, but can count the number of jobs he’s had
“on one hand.”
“It’s enjoyable, it’s fun,” Stepsis said of tutoring. “Some students need extra guided practice to succeed. I had a student last year that I worked extensively with. She was struggling in econ and got a four on AP test. I was happy with that and happy to help her.”
Stepsis signed up to be a tutor to access a wider market of students to tutor. Stepsis hasn’t been matched with a student yet, or worked with other services in the past, but said he felt signing up for Teachers Who Tutor was a wise choice.
“I’m not aware of other services in the area,” he said. “But it’s a good idea and a chance learn about some nuances of market...If the idea is to get me in front of some potential clients I’m all for it.”
For Fred Vital, a chemistry teacher at Darien High School, the appeal of Teachers Who Tutor was not only the increased access to students who need assistance, but the ability to keep his entire paycheck.
“Being a teacher, I see sometimes students who struggle and they need some individualized assistance and as much as I’m available their schedule sometimes doesn’t match mine,” he said. “In my experience as a tutor, I’ve been able to see kids on a weekend and evening where as a teacher, I wouldn’t be doing that.”
“Some of the other tutoring services that had contacted me over the years had a situation where parents would pay through them and they’d send a check [to me] or they’d take a large percentage of tutoring fee,” Vital added. “The difference with Teachers Who Tutor was Steve’s idea was to be the matching site and then he’d be out of it. He was not asking me to share any fees I would charge nor asking parents to pay him, just a simple one-time parent fee for access to matching service. I felt that was in my best interest and it wasn’t something other services ever offered.”
It’s the parents and students Eno is still working on reaching through Facebook marketing, advertisements in local publications and high school guidance counselor offices. He’s had a handful of families sign up, mostly looking for help in middle school and high school maths and sciences.
“It’s still early,” he said. “It’s not like a retail establishment where you have a storefront people walk by. From a marketing standpoint, there’s two challenges. It’s not aspirational. It’s not like when you see a car commercial and you’re like “Wow, I’d really like to own that some day.” That sticks in your head. It’s also not something you’re going to make a decision for right then and there. It really is a classic building brand awareness challenge.”
But both Eno and his tutors agree a huge part of the service’s appeal will be the fact that it’s made up of teachers with strong backgrounds in teaching and in the curriculum.
“I think one of the unique things with this company is the match allows for parents to choose based off of the experience and knowing that Steve has vetted some of the tutors,” Vital said. “They are teachers of subjects at the schools, not a kid in the grad program and not a kid who thinks they can do math/science but has no teaching background.”