By Noor Lalani (BBA ’16)
“Noor, are you free to tutor?” “Hey man, my friend gave me your number for STATS.”
My phone would fill up with requests as many people wanted a more private tutoring session. I took on the responsibility of privately tutoring these people, seeing how the requests piled up, I thought about how my name got out there and that’s how StudyTact came to be.
Rewind to a few years back, I had A grades in many of the math and business related subjects, so I applied and started tutoring at LSS. I had quite a few classes on my plate, and at one time, there was no tutor and many other classmates needed help in MIS 3300. I stepped forward, hesitantly, since I was new to the tutoring field, but thought that this would be a great opportunity to help those that were struggling.
I was surprisingly rewarded for this through extra credit points that decision & information sciences Clinical Assistant Professor Emese Felvegi started giving out once they learned about other students helping. I became that one friend that everyone would turn to for help in their classes whether it be MIS 3300 or MIS 3370 Java or even STAT 3331 class. While I was mostly busy with STAT 3331, I tutored in eight different subjects for those two years at LSS. At LSS or privately, I ended up tutoring 25-30 students at once. I was always excited and eager to tutor the students and see their grades improve. I would get my daily dose of satisfaction from realizing a student learned and did well in their class from our session.
After working at LSS, I decided to transfer into the STATS Lab under decision & information sciences Clinical Assistant Professor Staci Smith. While at the STATS Lab, many students would request a more private one-on-one type tutoring, and while I had the time as a student, I would agree to it. I started getting a few requests from friends and suddenly the number started to grow more and more.
Fall 2016 came around, and I had finished everything required to graduate, still in denial that I was done, but I knew it was time. I applied for graduation realizing the few weeks I had left at STATS Lab tutoring. My passion to teach had grown into something I didn’t want to see end like my undergraduate career. I had to find a way to tutor while working in a corporate world.
I kept to private tutoring while finding a way to make a more permanent solution. Tutoring had become my passion, and I wanted to make it a bigger part of my life. I wanted to bring the startup idea I had during my years at UH to life. I started applying everything I learned to build this app.
While working full-time at an energy firm, I continued tutoring, sometimes after work and sometimes on the weekends. Along with working full-time, and tutoring part-time, I was working on making this app a reality.
I even took a mobile app development class with Professor DeCarlo and built the first app and website within five days of class. This was where the initial idea of creating a platform to connect students and tutors came from. Cloud computing class with Professor Gonzalez was a vital course in my school years in which I created the first version of our tutoring website in class using WordPress. I also learned how to use AWS in this class for our app to have a database and servers set on AWS.
Courses such as project management with decision & information sciences Clinical Assistant Professor Carl Scott shaped my foundation on how to manage and conduct team meetings using the Agile Method and how to distribute and provide tasks to team members. When it came to money maintenance, the finance course with Assistant Professor Kevin Roshak helped me calculate projection, calculating churn and pre-money and post-money valuation that helped us estimate the valuation of the company.
I would say my most direct and relatable experience was through the microfinance course where I worked as a consultant with four startup companies from the third ward area of Houston. To help them understand how to start a startup, filling for a business, create business plans which can be taken to investors. This experience pushed me to grow and help other entrepreneurs by staying involved in the SURE Program. Seeing my year of work finally unfolding to this fall semester where I launch this app, it feels unreal.
StudyTact is a mobile app based marketplace for University Students. StudyTact aims to develop a convenient and a complete experience for students. We believe in giving a little push with a whole lot of encouragement to help them achieve their academic goals. Our platform provides Peer-to-Peer tutoring to University Students on a premise that a student gets tutored by a peer who has taken the same class from the same professor and aced it. We also connect students with fitness trainers and photographers on campus.
StudyTact also facilitates Group tutoring where a student can get tutoring with their friends and classmates and save up to 50-60% of average 1-1 tutoring prices. We also provide a Snap-a-Question feature where a student can snap a picture of a question to one of our available tutors and get help instantly. We understand that not all students need tutoring but they just need material and that’s why StudyTact also provides class notes and study guides created by our Tutors and Elite note takers.
We are endeavoring to build this company’s culture with transparency. Every StudyTact employee should and would be aware about what is going on in their company. We learn about social entrepreneurship in our SURE program and we implemented 1 for 1 model where we donate one book for every session booked on our platform.
Along with the current features, we are planning to create an AI Chatbot for Facebook messenger, a robot that will ask students that need help a series questions to determine what type of session they need and automatically book the required session.
This semester we’ve launched at five universities across Texas, nevertheless after seeing a good amount of growth, we will launch StudyTact at 10 more universities for the Spring 2018 semester.
We are also on the track to add more features like online tutoring, selling notes and study guides.
Our aim is to help as many students as possible, at the same time, create a peer-to-peer culture across universities to connect students.
Students First – Our purpose is to serve students. Without these students, there wouldn’t be a StudyTact.
Preparation Meets Opportunity – Our success as a team is dependent on everybody’s work ethic and everyone bringing their A-game.
Transparent Environment – We share all the details with our team. Every team member some equity in the company.
Happiness and Humility – We encourage tutors and students to take pride into what they do; be humble and helpful to your teammates.
Make an Impact – We want tutors and students to take initiate; hold strong in the belief that there is a solution and achieve your goals.