June 22, 2011
(Left to right: Aaron Harris, Ryan Bednar and Josh Abrams)
What happens after three co-founders leave the finance industry, join forces, build a startup, get accepted into Y Combinator and several months later find that the Wall Street Journal is dishing out kudos about their latest venture? For most startups it simply means that you’re on to the next challenge.
Really, it’s the everyday experience of running a startup and holding it together against all the different directions in which you want to pull it,” said twenty-six-year-old Aaron Harris, co-founder and CEO of Tutorspree.com, an online marketplace for tutors. “You need to prioritize, choose, and execute nonstop.”
Making High Quality Tutors Accessible
As private tutoring booms, Tutorspree is on a mission to become a reputable player and revolutionize an industry which is now estimated to garner $3.5 – 5.0 billion per year. Harris wants to ensure students have access to the same kind of great tutoring that helped get him into Harvard.
“The idea behind Tutorspree goes all the way back to high school. Back then, finding a tutor was largely driven by randomness and word of mouth,” said Harris.
Then we saw our friends – teachers and grad students – losing their jobs in the recession. What did they do? They went looking for tutoring gigs by sticking flyers up on telephone poles. “That’s crazy! It hasn’t changed!” we thought, and we set out to fix the problems parents have finding great tutors, and the problems great tutors have finding good clients.”
Collaboration and the Perfect Startup Team
Backed by angel investors Buchheit and Adam D’angelo, Tutorspree.com has experienced marked success to-date. Since the company’s official launch it has stated a 60% rebooking rate and that its top tutor made $2,000 in one month alone.
So what does a perfect startup team look like? Harris’ team is comprised of the business acumen, development know-how and design skills that generally indicate a strong foundational structure.
While the trio is hard at work making high quality education more accessible, co-founder and marketing lead, Josh Abrams is tasked to make sure that Tutorspree runs like a well oiled machine. Ryan Bednar, co-founder and engineering extraordinaire is dedicated to turning Tutorspree’s product ideas and designs into a living, breathing web application.
Learn how they got started, the biggest challenge they’ve faced and why you shouldn’t “just listen” to feedback.
Founder: Aaron Harris, 26
Location: New York, NY
Startup Year: 2010
Startup Costs: $20,000
How I Got Started:
Tutorspree happened after I realized, after four years working in finance, that I wanted to build products that solved real problems for people by building useful tools. I didn’t know exactly what it was I wanted to do with that desire, but found it after talking to my co-founder, Josh.
Working with his initial idea, we began building it and evolving it through conversations with customers. We soon added Ryan, and the team was ready.
Best Success Story:
As a company, I think our biggest success so far was getting our first customer successfully through our whole flow. Everything we did leading up to that, customer research, product roadmapping, requirements, build, research, getting into Y Combinator was validated the first time we processed a credit card and paid a tutor. It was an incredible experience. We proved, right there, that we had actually built something that someone, at least, wanted.
Biggest Startup Challenge:
Getting our second customer. Seriously, the first customer could be a fluke, just a random occurrence, but getting the second, third, fourth customer etc. was a huge challenge – and it’s ongoing. It teaches us, on a daily basis, what we need to do better, smarter and what we’re doing almost right.
Really, it’s the everyday experience of running a startup and holding it together against all the different directions in which you want to pull it. You need to prioritize, choose, and execute nonstop.
#1 Tip for New Entrepreneurs:
Don’t just listen to feedback, figure out what to do with it. A lot of people I’ve met seem to hear feedback, and then just toss it out if it doesn’t agree with what they’ve decided they know. They’re throwing out the best advice they’re ever going to get. It may not be easy to hear, but it is definitely important.
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