Many people say that when you are not happy with the way in which something is being done, you should step in and make a difference. In the world of tutoring, a new company is doing just that.
Tutonic, a Manhattan-based company, came onto the scene earlier this month as an online marketplace for tutors and students to find each other easily. Unlike standard tutoring services, the tutors can set their own hourly rates and students can then choose who to hire based on what they can afford.
Although the company is New York-based, they do have ties to Blacksburg through Kyle Cromer, one of the co-founders of the group. Cromer graduated from Virginia Tech in 2009 after studying animal and poultry sciences before moving on to Yale University for graduate work in biomedical sciences.
“I initially wanted to be a veterinarian, so Tech was definitely the best for that,” Cromer said. “About halfway through my college career, I decided to switch into biological research, which led me to where I am now. If all goes well with Tutonic, I plan on doing that full time, so it’s another switching of gears.”
Like many businesses, Tutonic began as a small idea. Joshua Beach, a friendCromer met through living in the dorms at Yale, was dissatisfied after realizing how little he was making on his tutoring through a private tutor broker and decided to do something about it.
“They were actually paying (Beach) pretty handsomely,” Cromer said, “But looking further into it, he realized that they were actually making more off of his hourly tutoring than he was for doing little more than setting up the student with the session.
"He essentially (wanted to) modernize the tutoring industry that had basically been relying on word-of-mouth connections. We thought making a website that could do this more efficiently was probably a good idea.”
Cromer and the rest of the Tutonic team have had to learn quickly about what it takes to start a business, as they have had less than a year to get ready before the company launched less than a month ago. The website has about 70 tutors as of now and is focused mostly on schools in New York, as well as the alma maters of the staff, allowing them work with markets that they understand well.
However, marketing has changed a lot over the years, so the Tutonic marketing group has to use technology and social media to their advantage. Jami Ambler, the company’s lead designer has seen first-hand how different it is to market a brand new company.
“I would say it’s been very challenging, especially from a design standpoint, because we’re building a product that’s for consumers and we don’t really know what people are looking for right now,” Ambler said.
In spite of a marketing challenge, Tutonic is able to use social media sites as a free platform to get their message out as they’ve launched. These websites have also allowed them to show a more personal side to their business.
“You can learn a lot about us through our website,” said David Beiner, the company’s social media director. “But by looking at our Facebook, you see pictures of us in our office and you get a really hands-on feel for what we’re doing every day to build this. Also, on Twitter you get to see our voice.”