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  • Writer's pictureJolie Radunich

How building an e tutoring service during COVID prepared me for the edtech industry

Quarantine took me back to 5th grade.

In weeks, I remember being whisked away from a special semester spent in Washington D.C. to my childhood bedroom. What's even more clear in my mind was helping my brother adjust to his virtual, 5th-grade classroom.

Lockdowns began in March—the point in the pandemic where we were excited to have a couple weeks off to do the spring cleaning we never got around to.

Fears of the summer and now COVID slide were a few months away from becoming real. I started making my brother a personalized learning guide with platforms to help him avoid both.

Then I started thinking about families who didn’t have these guides. I partnered with my hometown's San Francisco Public Library and was able to reach a dozen homes. Educated, Honey! was born and I became inspired.

1. I secured a connection to get my e tutoring service in the door

When I designed my first learning guide, I started thinking about how great it would be to offer study guides to children across the world.

I quickly realized that to make my idea a reality, I needed to start way smaller. I began reaching out to schools I attended or that were in my same network.

After suffering from solicitation ghosting I went back to the drawing board, switching my target from schools to libraries. But as I reached out to different libraries across New York and the Bay Area, I was met with nos, solicitation concerns, and ghosting. I needed to pivot again.

I remembered that I was a lifelong San Francisco Public Library member. I spent my high school summers volunteering at my local branch and even earned a summer read scholarship to put toward college.

I was already connected and invested in this community, my service proved it. With that, I’d rediscovered my network and target audience. Lucky for me, they were game to market me.

I saw the value in niching down, looking to my network, and pushing my enthusiasm forward.

2. I communicated my vision in a digestible way

My proposal was credible partly because of my personability. But what I think ultimately led the library to agree to market Educated, Honey! in their newsletter, was my digital presence.

I didn’t realize it then, but I took the time to brand my service by creating a logo and detailed website, with a mission statement and FAQs.

The library’s summer tutoring program had a waitlist. Those were the families who would be transfered over and get connected with my service. As the days passed I wondered, would anyone reach out?

I soon got an email:

Please I want to sign my kids up. 2nd grade and 6th grade. They need help in their reading and writing.

One turned into another:

How can I get the program started?

Before I knew it, I was up to a dozen.

Not only did I feel relieved advertising my service to the public, but ready to make outreach and connecting with edtech users an ongoing part of my life.

3. I collected feedback to review my outcomes, and could've done more

Mateo loves to do math !!! And the vocabulary . We missed the writing but we can try this week. Thank you

There’s nothing like receiving feedback — especially affirmations that you haven’t asked for.

After connecting with families and sending out the guides, it was a relief hearing about the activities students liked best, or how the workload was easing them into the new school year.

Getting parents to check in weekly over email wasn’t easy.

In the flurry of transitioning from summer break into the new school year, I didn't send out a general feedback survey. This was a missed opportunity to collect actionable data outside of the candid email responses parents did send me.

Entering the edtech industry as a transitioning tutor

After creating Educated, Honey! I took on a few e-tutoring roles before starting to work in edtech.

I left behind summer 2020 with a few building takeaways that have prepared me to build in the edtech industry.

  • Find your niche. It’s noble to want to help everyone. But if you don’t start with a target audience, you’ll end up helping no one.

  • Learning is personal. I worked for students as young as 5 and as old as 12. It was critical to differentiate content that showed up in their program guides to make it relevant to their age and areas for growth.

  • Data is key. In addition to the unsolicited parent feedback I got, I wish I sent out a survey to assess the impact of my program in a more systematic way.

It looks like the Channel Your Edtech Kid blog is my next buildable project I'll be testing.


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