Scott Lee: I was born in Korea and came to the U.S. for high school so that I could have a global education. While in high school, I started my first company PeerTutor, which connected more than 6,000 English tutors and students. This is when I got the so-called entrepreneurial bug. I attended Columbia University for college, where I majored in engineering, and also spent two years serving in the Republic of Korea army. In college I started a company, Mud Cafe, which was a niche online retailer. After college, I worked at J.P. Morgan as an analyst for a year and then decided to start Gooroo, returning to my passion of entrepreneurship.
Scott Lee: Gooroo is an app available on Android and iOS that allows students to instantly find and book sessions with the best tutors in New York City. Users are able to search by subject, location, availability and tutor rating, and then they meet their tutor for an in-person session. Everything can be done in the app, from booking a session, to chatting with a tutor before meeting them, and finally, processing payment. In addition to being the easiest way to find a tutor, Gooroo also offers competitive pricing and takes less commission from tutors, which allows them to charge lower rates (starts at $20 per hour). For college students or others with flexible schedules, Gooroo allows them to put their knowledge to use and make supplemental income as a tutor. With Gooroo, more people can afford a tutor and it doesn’t have to be a luxury for families.
Scott Lee: Like I said, I started a peer-to-peer English tutoring company in high school, which was my first experience with starting a tutoring service. I loved the idea of students helping each other one-on-one, which proved to be mutually beneficial. After college, I knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial and I was fascinated with how the on-demand economy could impact tutoring. I knew we could enlist really smart tutors from top colleges who also wanted part-time jobs. I left my job in 2015 and we put together a team and developed an app that’s easy to integrate into everyday life. The app launched in the spring of 2016. It’s right there next to Uber and Lyft on your phone!
Scott Lee: Gooroo tutors are college students or professionals with flexible schedules who have expertise in specific subjects. Right now our tutors come from New York schools like Columbia and NYU since we have brand ambassadors at college campuses that help encourage both tutors and students to use the app. Each tutor is background checked and meets with our top management to ensure they’ll be a good fit for students. Gooroo is beneficial for tutors because allow them to make additional income when it’s convenient for them and take less commission than traditional tutoring services. Actually, one of our tutors is currently paying for her classes with the income she makes through Gooroo.
Scott Lee: First, the app is absolutely beautiful and simple to use. Secondly, no other tutoring companies have addressed the pain points of high price and low quality. We fix this by fully vetting our tutors,and also with a pricing structure that’s lower than competitors.
The more a tutor works, the less commission we take from them.
Scott Lee: I’ve been shocked at how many college students sign up as tutors. We have hundreds on our platform and continue to get calls every day, even from outside of New York! We get calls from Boston, Chicago, and even in other countries. It just goes to show that there is a huge supply of tutors out there. I guess I wasn’t expecting us to move so quickly. It’s a nice surprise to have.
Scott Lee: From a developer’s perspective, we were surprised with how much data would be needed to run the app properly. It was tricky to optimize the use of storage to reduce the amount space it takes up and mitigate the data used for phone plans. With a lot of hard work from the development team, we developed the app to be a lightweight framework that allows for a flawless user experience, low data usage, and minimal battery power.
Scott Lee: We have lots of exciting plans! In terms of expansion, we have a team in Korea and plan to launch there soon. We also plan to expand to U.S. cities, like Boston and Philadelphia, that have multiple top colleges in the area. Also, Gooroo will one day (soon!) incorporate other skills in addition to academic subjects. So you’ll be able to learn guitar, or take a yoga lesson from an expert.