The Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship proudly awards grants to Lavin Entrepreneurship Program students to help bolster their startup journey as they balance both school and work. The annual Seed Fund is unique to the highly competitive program at the University of Washington. Students compete and pitch their existing or early-stage ventures to a select group from the Seattle entrepreneurial community in early March. Each of the 2018 Lavin Seed Fund award winners shared an update on their startup journey with us. Here’s David Walker of Ututored.
Who We Are
With the cost of education skyrocketing, Ututored provides colleges students with the opportunity to help each other through it. In every class I have taken, there are numerous students who excel in the subject, cruising through to earn stellar grades. Many of these students work part-time to pay for their education. These jobs usually pay minimum wage, and although in Seattle this wage may seem appealing, they could be doing better, by tutoring. For every student that excels to this degree, there are five that struggle to get by in their classes, and many of them would be willing to pay for tutoring. Student tutors can ditch their part-time jobs and make twice as much by becoming a tutor, and students can now enjoy tutors at an affordable rate. Ututored offers a platform that connects students to tutors in an easy and secure manner.
After months of development, the website is live and fully functional. We’ve ran usability tests by having potential customers sign up and give feedback on what could be improved. It’s now time to pivot from building the website to delivering a service.
Where We Are Going
Our goal is to expand to the five largest universities in the Northwest; University of Washington, Washington State University, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Portland University. These five major universities provide a network of over 120,000 undergraduate students. We hope to grow our network by establishing student ambassadors at each university and incentivizing them by offering a flat reward for every unique tutor who signs up.
Challenges We Are Currently Facing
Marketing has been a challenge for growth as there’s not necessarily any clear direction or “right way” to do it. Building the website, although time consuming and tedious, was relatively straightforward in terms of what we wanted and what needed to be done. However, marketing presents many new variables that have to be accounted for, and finding the most efficient, effective, and affordable means of marketing is much more difficult than anticipated.
Quite possibly the greatest challenge we face is balancing the onboarding of tutors and students. Convincing students to sign up requires a network of tutors to exist, yet at the same time we need to have a network of students accrued in order for tutors to sign up. This challenge is something we are still figuring out how to address and our solution will dictate how we operate in the future.