Continuing Education, Domestic, Elementary / Primary / Junior, Feature, High school / Secondary 2, Required, Startups, Technology, University & College, Venture Capital - Written by on Monday, December 26, 2011 9:06 - 0 Comments

Startup Slugfest: tutorspree vs. TutorCloud | Review

photo via flickr user johnmcnab

Contendors


Tutorspree is an online marketplace for private tutors— it’s like Yelp for finding local  tutors.

versus

TutorCloud is an online platform for tutors to teach kids who want to learn online, from home.


 

It’s getting crowded in here…Did we mention Tutorhub [UK-based] and TeachStreet are also vying for spots in the tutor-ring, but tutorspree and TutorCloud are the closest rivals.

By the way, there are gorillas in the room too: Tutor.com and TutorVista each have millions of sessions and scores of online tutors. But visit their sites, and they’re devoid of any personality. That’s because everything is anonymous there. This new crop of startups put faces and personalities front and center.

I am your father… tutorspree and TutorCloud have the same sugar daddy— Geoff Ralston gave cash to both. Through Y-combinator-meets-edu ImagineK12, Ralston invested in TutorCloud. Then, Ralston also backed tutorspree with Sequoia Capital. Hey, the guy needs to diversify and digs the tutoring space.

The problem in education that both want to fix: Typically, the first place parents and tutor seekers look is Craigslist. We all know how that goes. So instead of trolling through the Craiglist flea market, both offer nicely manicured shopping experiences— to connect students and tutors face-to-face, or at least webcam-to-webcam.

Value-added

Tutorspree says they keep wannabe tutors out of their market by pre-screening each one. Looks to be a mix of students and professional tutors. CEO Aaron Harris told TechCrunch they have thousands of tutors enlisted.

Users can sort by location. In New York City, Laura C. offers LSAT tutoring for $150/hr— right next to Mary Q., who will teach you Chinese for $20/hr. [Memo to tutorspree: Not to be nitpicky, tutors shouldn't have typos in their bios...they're tutors after all.]

Users can also drill down to subject, from Accounting to Test Prep. From there, users can rank results by price or recommendations. For now, reviews are pretty sparse and uninformative. We’d like to see specific review metrics like preparedness, command of subject, value and timeliness.

Tutor seeker chooses tutor and they meet locally.

Bring the Bling

Tutorspree has a good business model for people that want in-person interaction. Tutorspree makes money by facilitating payment for tutors: 50 percent of the first hour of the first lesson, then 12 percent of the rest. Tutorspree received angel funding, but also raised $1 million from Sequoia and Ralston among others.

 

 

Value-added

TutorCloud is an online marketplace and classroom for tutors. Initially at launch, tutors were all supposed to be students at brand name schools, but that seems to have changed. There are some experienced teachers in the mix now and students from DeVry [gasp]. From reviewing their site, it seems the TutorCloud is more of puff than cloud at this point, with maybe one hundred tutors.

The main difference is tutors do not meet locally with their students— they meet online via Skype in an “online classroom.”  Tutors can be anywhere, and students can be anywhere. The “online classroom” is an online whiteboard that tutors and students can use to communicate and collaborate on problems. Students can add snapshots of their textbooks or handouts via the webcam that is then stored online.

There are reviews for each tutor [more than on tutorspree], but again, defined metrics would be more useful than say, “I’ve known Brad since high school. He’s charismatic…”

Sorting and ranking available tutors is not a strong feature here. When there are only 10 tutors, as in French, that’s not a problem. But if there are over 30 in writing, the ability to sort by ranking and price suddenly becomes sorely missed.

The tutoring fees are lower on average with TutorCloud, starting around $10/hr. and seems capped at $50/hr.

Conclusion

In the end, TutorCloud offers a better value for tutor seekers. Users can find the best tutor for them at a reasonable price and learn from the comfort of their home. And their tutor could be anywhere.

Tutorspree is certainly a valuable resource, but does nothing to expand the reach of good tutors beyond their geography. And for a student with no good tutors near them, tutorspree might as well be tutordrought.

Right now, TutorCloud has first-mover advantage in building out their online platform and tools, but tutorspree told TechCrunch they’re working on an online component.

Tutorspree’s advantage is in the depth of their numbers of tutors— many who are professional teachers as opposed to college students. A smart student is not necessarily a good teacher.

Perhaps Ralston will take his two kids, make them play nice and merge them into one platform.



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