Rethinking the Core Business of Varsity Tutors
Fast engagement: Delivering immediate customer value and on-going engagement
Joining a B-round startup has its own challenges, especially if that startup is attempting to pivot from a high growth, services company to a technology company.
I lead UX, Research, Brand and Design Strategy at Varsity Tutors. VT has been around for awhile, and started out as a placement service for in-person tutoring for families in and around St. Louis. The company now competes nationally, placing thousands of tutors every year. We still place in-person tutors (who are crowd sourced) but in recent years, we have introduced a platform that connects students and tutors online, opening a new range of service opportunities.
One of the key challenges the company faces is quickly placing tutors with new customers. Tutoring is typically an acute need. A student is already failing, or there is a high-stakes entrance exam on the horizon, or a term paper coming due. Poor quality tutors or late placements are the #1 reason for customer refund activity. The cost of acquiring new customers is also high, because tutoring is an expensive hourly proposition.
My team led a strategy Charrette in August of 2017 to look at this problem and develop solutions. This is one of the concepts I developed out of that work. It involves fast discovery by a student who has immediate needs, the ability to quickly try the platform, and the introduction of a micro currency concept that disconnects tutoring utilization from a time based metaphor. Tutors can set their own rates in the currency, and the price of services can be surged on both sides of the market (clients and tutors) to enable more frequent utilization.