2009: The Observations that Launched MyGuru
MyGuru is a 1-1 & small group tutoring and test prep company founded by graduate students at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. As of 2009, MyGuru’s founders had all been through the ACT, SAT, GMAT, and LSAT preparation process within the past 10 years, and each had experience providing private tutoring in one context or another.
As a group, we recognized a few key things about the tutoring landscape that we felt could be improved upon:
- There are many tutoring companies and web-sites for students to find individual tutors
- But, although there are many experienced, effective tutors, they can be hard to find in the sea of less qualified, basically average tutors
- When a student seeks information from a tutoring company, the company does not usually pause to understand the student’s unique situation and provide objective information to inform their options – instead, they focus on selling the student on the value of their service(s) and approach…
- …and it may take several days, or more, to get back to the potential customer after the initial phone call
- When it comes to standardized test prep, too many companies develop their own proprietary materials, invest in expensive physical office space, and encourage students to sign up for profitable test prep classes…
- …when for many students, customized 1-1 prep or even guided self-study is what would produce the best results, and any of the dozens of available test prep books would suffice
2010: The Beginning
So, we founded MyGuru in late 2009 to address the above situation with high quality, affordable, and customized 1-1 tutoring and test prep. Click here to learn more about our vision, which we continue to believe in today.
It wasn’t until 2010 that we really got going. At that point, MyGuru’s main founder, Mark Skoskiewicz, was still getting his MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He built the company slowly, focusing on recruiting excellent independently contracted tutors in Chicago only and marketing the business by building an informative web-site with an active blog and forming partnerships with local organizations, such as high schools, universities, and admission prep companies.
At this point, if you called or emailed us, there was a good chance you’d be matched with a great tutor, but there was also a good chance we might not have anyone available in your subject and location within Chicago – and we were OK with that. We didn’t want to sacrifice quality to be able to work with more students.
2011: Solidifying What We Offer
By 2011, we had a still small, but impressive team of tutors in Chicago, and it was clear that we’d continue to focus on:
- Providing as much information as possible to help students make the best decision for them
- Building an elite team of tutors that is the most impressive, experienced, and accomplished in the industry through careful recruiting and collection of feedback
- Delivering excellent customer service by understanding a student’s unique situation and listening to their story
- Coordinating relationships between students and tutors that, while obviously dependent on the experience and expertise of the tutor him or herself, are also improved upon by MyGuru through:
- Setting the right context and objectives for all parents, students, and tutors upfront
- Recommending high quality supplemental materials when appropriate
- Developing generic study plans that tutors can then tailor for specific students
- Providing tools, materials, and light training of tutors (where necessary) to help tutors do their jobs even better
- Building unique partnerships that provide effective supplementary services (i.e., online practice problems, admissions prep, etc.) that go along with 1-1 tutoring and test prep
It was also clear to us what we would not do:
- To keep costs down and convenience high, we wouldn’t invest in physical space – tutors meet students in their homes, local libraries, or coffee shops
- We decided against building proprietary test prep materials. There are so many good options available already, it just didn’t make sense to introduce more materials
- Except in rare cases, we do not provide admission prep services – there are many great admission advisors, and we choose to partner with them instead of competing against them
- Sacrifice on quality to build a larger team of tutors capable of handling any given request
2012: Continuing to Grow
As 2012 came to a close, we had continued to build our excellent team of tutors, refine our approach to engaging with students, and grow our brand and awareness of MyGuru in Chicago. However, we had also established small teams of tutors in various locations such as New York, Minneapolis, Boston, and two college towns: Bloomington, IN (near Indiana University) and Champaign, IL (near the University of Illinois). We continue to focus on building teams of tutors and networks of partners that are unmatched in quality, and yet still affordable for most families seeking customized, 1-1 tutoring and test prep.