‘WORKING WITH A PEER TUTOR IS LIKE WORKING WITH A FRIEND’
Gautam Bhargava and Jed Rollins never finished high school, but the pair’s new education startup Peeyr is making affordable tutors accessible to students across Dallas-Fort Worth.
“I’m an 18-year-old high school dropout who runs an education startup,” Peeyr CEO Bhargava said.
Peeyr is an online marketplace where students can browse a platform of peer tutors in their area, select one based on reviews and academic information, choose a curated public location to meet, and schedule either one-time or recurring sessions. All of Peeyr’s tutors are in high-school, allowing its users to find and work with tutors who are their own age.
“Working with someone that’s been in your shoes creates an environment of trust and transparency,” said Rollins, Peeyr chief product officer and brand designer. “It’s hard to truly connect with someone who is so distanced from the ever-evolving curriculum and social trends. Working with a peer tutor is like working with a friend, rather than working with a stranger.”
Peeyr tutors are vetted thoroughly
Peeyr’s tutors undergo a vigorous vetting process that includes academic verification, an interview, an orientation, and continuous training sessions.
“We only accept passionate tutors who are good at communicating what they know, not just tutors who are academic,” Bhargava said.
“We only accept passionate tutors who are good at communicating what they know, not just tutors who are academic.” – Gautam Bhargava
A major reason many students lack access to the learning resources that they need outside of the classroom is cost. Peeyr is a solution to this problem, offering peer tutors for $25 an hour, one-third the cost of competing online tutor marketplaces such as Wyzant, and half the cost of companies such as Sylvan and Kumon.
“Current tutoring marketplaces just aren’t geared towards everybody. They focus on students from higher-income socioeconomic backgrounds,” Bhargava said. “It was a problem that I became deeply passionate about. So passionate that I dropped out to fix it.”
Problems with the education system
He said his journey to fix what he saw as problems with today’s education systems began three years ago when he met Rollins.
“I had one goal after school and that was starting a company, something I was told could only be done with an MBA [Master of Business Administration],” Bhargava said. “That opinion changed when I got introduced to Jed, a teenage prodigy who had dropped out [of high school] to travel the world doing photography and design.”
The two instantly connected over their passion for entrepreneurship, and not long after they launched Ankorhem, an integrated design agency.
“[It] taught us a lot about business, teams, and products, and allowed me to hone my design sensibilities.”
– Jed Rollins
“[It] taught us a lot about business, teams, and products, and allowed me to hone my design sensibilities,” said Rollins, who left high school his sophomore year to work on a national campaign, and then began to take on major clients as a designer. “We ended up working together on a few other projects.”
One of those projects was SATUS, a three-week program for teenage entrepreneurs in DFW.
SATUS launched last summer with 15 teenage fellows who worked with leaders in the Dallas startup community to learn every aspect of starting a company.
“SATUS is an essential element in today’s education system, provided instead by a group of highly talented, coachable, and motivated young adults,” said Michael Sitarzewski, publisher of Launch DFW and CEO of Epic Playground.
SATUS program saw large increase in applicants
Bhargava and Rollins saw a large increase in applicants for this year’s SATUS program. As a result, they are planning to introduce a more scalable model and introduce an online platform with all the resources and direction one may need to start a company.
“We’ve expanded our team and are partnering with some incredible organizations in Silicon Valley and Dallas to bring this together,” Bhargava said.
After the successes of Ankorhem and SATUS, Bhargava said he felt he had both the skills and confidence necessary to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship full time.
“After three years of entrepreneurial experience, I was confident in my ability to create a lasting solution that could really change education,” he said.
Peeyr tied for third place at Dallas Startup Weekend last July and then officially launched in September.
Rollins said, “We both had problems with the education system that we had left behind, and we knew that we had the tools to help change it for students who couldn’t find a way out of the challenges they were facing in school.”
“It’s incredibly fulfilling to know that this is actually changing people’s lives.”
Since its launch, Peeyr has added a chief technology officer, an engineer, and an additional designer to its team. The ed tech company has already received several hundred applications from students across DFW interested in becoming peer tutors. They also recently launched a public beta that pre-booked 50 sessions from students interested in the service and Peeyr has seen roughly 25 users continuously book sessions every week.
“Every day, we see more and more students signing up who usually would skip tutoring because of the cost. It’s incredibly fulfilling to know that this is actually changing people’s lives,” Bhargava said.
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