An innovative startup called the Tutor Matching Service is looking to revolutionize the way families seek out quality tutors for their children. TMS is only the latest in a series of online technology solutions that seek to take advantage of online learning to upend the educational status quo, but unlike many others, it has drawn attention from venture funding luminary Andreessen Horowitz.
As Rip Empson of TechCrunch reports, TMS is not just targeting individual consumers. As pressure on schools to increase graduation rates and standardized exam scores grows, schools are also looking at one-on-one tutoring as a solution to their problems. Putting the process online allows the company to place a selection of quality instructors at their customers' fingertips, whether those customers are parents of an 8th grader in Columbus or a college in California.
Schools want to improve student graduation and success rates, and one-on-one tutoring is a great (and effective) way to do that, however, at most colleges and universities, there are few tutoring options for upper level chemistry, physics, math, languages and so on. College learning centers are asked for help in this regard by parents and students all the time, so Tutor Matching Service began by piloting (and sponsorships) from the career centers, learning centers and student governments of schools like CalTech, Purdue, NYU Poly and Kent State University.
Unlike other technology solutions used by those advertising their tutoring services, both the search and the teaching take place online. Geographic realities that place limits on the price and the quality of instructors available no longer apply. Initially, founders Blake Miller, Ethan Fieldman and Chad Corbitt tested out the concept via a Facebook app. Now the service is a standalone web application — and the format has brought down the price of high-quality tutoring tremendously.
Today, having spread to 30 schools, the average price is $12/hour. Compared to "brick-and-mortar" tutoring services, that puts Tutor Matching Service in the "extremely affordable" category. Around the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, there's Tutorpedia, which costs $105/hour (while tutors make $20-$40/hr), and Stutors, a tutoring company in downtown Palo Alto, is $96/hour. Then there's Cardinal Tutors and many, many more. Their overhead requires them to take a huge cut and the stigma around tutoring — in other words, the fact that everyone and their mother expects tutoring to be expensive and a pain in the ass.
However, TMS seeks to prove everyone and their mother wrong, which is what may make the company stand out among other tutoring services. Instead of acting as a referrer to a third-party provider, using the service puts customers directly in touch with tutors themselves – cutting out an expensive middle man.
Therefore, TMS will live and die by the quality of tutors that offer their services through it. To that end, the company is offering 100% satisfaction guarantee. Empson notes that over 100 of TMS tutors are certified by an institution of higher education.