Tools and Skills

Varsity Tutors is proving that you can actually learn something online

Image courtesy Varsity Tutors

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There are a lot of smart people willing to help you out online. And then there’s everyone else – the trolls, the weirdoes, and the dogs. Somehow learning in-person just feels more trustworthy.

Test prep and academic tutoring platform Varsity Tutors has fought off the stigma of online to bring its off-line expertise to the digital space. In the last 18 months, the company has shifted its tutoring from entirely in-person to 50% online. Consider that more than 50,000 students use Varsity Tutor’s platform, and that’s no easy feat.

Last month, the company doubled down on virtual learning, launching a mobile app for iOS that makes one-on-one tutoring and instruction accessible to anyone with a smartphone. The app offers a suite of interactive learning tools that promises to actually improve on the in-person experience.

“We like to think of the first version of Varsity Tutors as Netflix by mail,” Chuck Cohn, CEO and founder, told us. “You go to our website, and we send a tutor to your home, and that was really cool… But then it became possible to build an even better experience, where the online interaction is even better for our customers.”

Cohn launched Varsity Tutors nine years ago out of his Washington University dorm room.

“A couple of my good friends coached me to a great grade in a calculus course that I probably would have otherwise failed, and I recognized that there was an opportunity to do a much better job removing friction from the process, connecting people faster, and deliver higher quality at lower cost,” he said. “As we started to grow, it became apparent that this was a really labor intensive business, and there was an opportunity to use technology to make it more efficient.”

Cohn continued growing the business while working in investment banking and venture capital after graduation, before pursuing Varsity Tutors full-time in 2010.

The company now employs 300 full-time workers, with 20,000 tutors on the platform. In November they raised a $50 million Series B round and recently opened a new office in Seattle, Washington.

You can learn more about Varsity Tutors offerings right here.


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