Alison Johnston Rue is the 26-year-old CEO of InstaEDU, an online tutoring company that allows students to instantly connect with tutors from top colleges. She previously worked for Aardvark and Google before co-founding InstaEDU in 2011 with her brother and one of their Stanford classmates.
Initially, the business was based on the idea of tutoring without scheduling — after all, students didn’t always know when they would need help. The instant nature of InstaEDU meant that a student could sit down to do homework, realize they were having trouble and connect with a tutor right then and there — even at 11:30pm. And, they could pay for very small increments of time, say, just the 10 minutes needed to address one particular question (current pricing starts at 40 cents/minute or $24/hour). In their second year, based on feedback from students, they added the capability to browse tutors and schedule lessons ahead of time, allowing students to find the right fit for them and build longer-term relationships.
InstaEDU now has thousands of tutors and is the largest marketplace for online tutoring. Throughout 2013 the company has seen 50+ percent average growth month over month, and they just announced a $4 million Series A round of funding to help scale what they’re doing.
We talked to Alison about what makes InstaEDU successful.