Varsity Tutors

This edtech startup is redefining how students and professionals access personalized expertise




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With more than four million hours of one-on-one and small group instruction delivered on its Live Learning Platform, this edtech startup is redefining how students and professionals access personalized expertise.

When Chuck Cohn founded Varsity Tutors in 2007, he began with $1,000 and a vision to revolutionize learning.

Now the company connects students and professionals of all ages with more than 40,000 experts in 2,000+ subjects. Varsity Tutors was the first to introduce an instant tutoring product, and has led the tutoring industry’s shift toward live online learning. Thanks in part to its award-winning Live Learning Platform, Varsity Tutors has even built an online tutoring experience that is now materially better than in person learning.

A St. Louis native and graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Cohn has grown his company within the innovative atmosphere of his hometown—advocating for and proving that entrepreneurship and technological advancement can exist outside of traditional hubs like Silicon Valley. The organization has a co-headquarters in Seattle, Washington, and additional offices in Tempe, Arizona, and Victoria, British Columbia, but its reach has been undeniably global.

Through its Live Learning Platform, Varsity Tutors can connect individuals with experts exactly when and where they need them. Traditional tutoring options, on the other hand, involve in-person sessions that are held at brickand-mortar locations at set times. Individuals who are in need of expert instruction are limited to expensive, one-size-fits-all services with strict schedules, or to independent tutors in their immediate geographic vicinity. Learners with unique needs, emergent issues, or in remote locations may struggle to find appropriate, personalized instruction in their communities.

Cohn and his team set out to change this reality in 2014. They leveraged new internet technology, along with a powerful proprietary matching and logistics engine, to create today’s Live Learning Platform. The Varsity Tutors product and engineering teams developed and iterated on a suite of powerful features that included live video chat, a shared workboard, subject-specific tools like a document editor and mathboard, over 200,000 integrated practice problems, and session recording and playback features.

With Varsity Tutors, learners are no longer limited to community resources. Its broadening of seamless geographical access to expertise—including an ongoing international expansion that began with its acquisition of First Tutors—means that an individual’s precise learning needs can be met by the perfect instructor, even if that instructor lives thousands of miles away.

Ultimately, Varsity Tutors is aiming to become the worldwide platform for knowledge transfer. What once seemed like an incredibly ambitious goal—to help any learner, in any subject, anywhere, at any time—is now becoming a reality.

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