Daniel Breiner is the Marketing and Communications Director for WyzAnt. Working with WyzAnt co-founders and other WyzAnt decision makers, Daniel is focused on enhancing WyzAnt’s user experience and expanding WyzAnt’s network of tutors and students.
WyzAnt, Inc. is an online marketplace matching students with qualified private tutors for in-person tutoring. Students and parents can review and compare tutor bios, student reviews, lesson ratings, background checks, tutor blogs, videos and more to ensure they find the ideal private tutor.
MO: Where did the inspiration for WyzAnt come from and what was the process of putting together such a comprehensive site and network of tutors?
Daniel: After leaving his job in finance, Andrew began tutoring as a means to make money while searching for a new job. At the time, the private tutoring industry was highly segmented relying largely on word-of-mouth referrals and unvetted listing services like craigslist to connect tutors and students. Andrew decided to enlist the help of his college roommate and computer science major, Michael Weishuhn, and together they created an online marketplace to address the inefficiencies of the private tutoring industry. The business model quickly proved itself and overtime with continued site improvements the network grew to become a nation-wide marketplace for in-person tutoring.
MO: How has WyzAnt evolved since it first launched back in 2005?
Daniel: For the first few years, WyzAnt was run out of Andrew and Michael’s apartment outside of Washington DC. Using guerilla marketing tactics like posting flyers at local high school events, they slowly began building awareness and attracting clients. Once they were able to begin investing in online marketing strategies like SEM and SEO, their business began expanding on a national scale, recruiting tutors and receiving requests from parents in places like New York and Los Angeles. The company was still operated out of a shared apartment when I joined in 2008 as WyzAnt’s first hire. Shortly after relocating to Chicago in the fall of ’08, we moved into our first office space in Wicker Park and we’ve expanded ever since while maintaining focus on our core competency of matching students with tutors for in-person tutoring. Today, we have 32 employees and 40,000 tutors. We have at least one tutor within 20 miles of 95% of the US population.
MO: Why do you think that the number of parents and students searching for private tutors is steadily increasing? What’s contributing to this trend?
Daniel: It’s difficult to point to one variable that explains the growth of the tutoring industry. I think states depleted budgets has resulted in some unfortunate cuts to education spending which impacts class size and the programs schools offer. As a result, many parents are turning to private tutoring options so their kids can receive the one-on-one attention that they might not have access to otherwise. Furthermore, education and the overall economy are becoming increasingly competitive, which causes people to hire tutors in order to get a leg up.
MO: Can you talk about the non-profit tutoring program called WyzAid that you launched last year?
Daniel: WyzAid is an idea we’ve had for a long time and stems from our company’s belief that everyone should have access to a quality education. By eliminating many of the inefficiencies in the tutoring market, WyzAnt makes private tutoring more affordable and accessible to a broader range of people, but there are of course still many people who just can’t afford it. WyzAid serves to further expand the accessibility of private tutoring by partnering with other non-profit organizations to provide volunteer tutoring services to motivated individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford a private tutor.
MO: WyzAid isn’t the only charitable endeavor that you’ve initiated for disadvantaged students. You have also started an annual college scholarship contest which awards $10,000 to three finalists. Where does your passion for education come from and what inspired you to add a philanthropic edge to WyzAnt?
Daniel: Education has played an important role in all of our lives. Most of us attended public schools growing up and many of us applied for college scholarships when we were in school. We appreciate the importance of a good education are we’re thankful for the people who had an impact on our educational upbringing. It’s nice to be able to give back to motivated students and we’ve really enjoyed hearing the stories our applicants have shared with us.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for WyzAnt?
Daniel: This year we’re really focused on strengthening the WyzAnt community for both our tutors and students. We do our best to engage our users and encourage feedback; some of the best features on our site have come from user suggestions. Many of the features and tools we’ll release this year will allow tutors and students to collaborate, share ideas and connect with one another in new ways.
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