Higher Education

Industry News

How Knack Is Transforming Online Tutoring at the College Level

By Cait Etherington
November 25, 2018

For years, there have been tutors on college and university campuses. In the past, these tutors were usually senior-level undergraduates or graduate students who also happened to need a bit of extra cash. They would generally find customers by creating a DIY poster and then tacking it up around campus. For tutors, getting business was often difficult. For students, finding a good tutor was also difficult, since one never really knew if they were paying for a brilliant PhD student in mathematics or just getting ripped off by a random guy who had shown up at the library with a math textbook and crumpled notepad. Fortunately, those days are over. New platforms, like Knack, are taking the guesswork out of college tutoring.

Knack’s Launch and Rapid Expansion

Knack launched in 2015. At the time, co-founder Samyr Qureshi was a pre-law student and well aware of the fact that there was still not necessarily a great way to connect potential tutors and tutees on campus.  Qureshi teamed up with three friends, David Stoker, Shawn Doyle, and Dennis Hansen, to launch Knack at University of Florida’s tech incubator, The Hatchery.

Since 2015, a lot has changed for Knack. First, the company has grown rapidly and now has a foothold on at least 40 campuses nationwide. As recently reported on TechCruch, the Tampa-based educational technology firm  has also just closed an impressive $1.5 million seed round and in the process attracted investors from both Boston and the Silicon Valley.

Knack Plans to Partner Directly With Universities

In addition to expanding to new campuses on its own, Knack also has plans to license its technology to universities. Their hope is that overstretched campus learning centers will sign on and use Knack’s technology as a supplement. While this may sound ambitious, Knack may be tapping into a something that proves critical to scaling their company. The top two sources of university revenue are tuition and government funding. Both revenue sources, however, are entirely contingent on keeping students in seats. If students drop out, especially early in the semester before enrollment numbers are submitted to the federal government, the university loses out. Scaling up their support, and even paying for additional tutors via a platform such as Knack, could be a way to ensure more students have on-campus jobs and more students have access to the tutoring they need to complete challenging classes.

A recent article in Catalyst reports that at least two universities, Arizona State University and Lynn University, have already signed on to partnerships with Knack. As Gregg Cox, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Lynn University, told Catalyst, “We are excited to leverage Knack to help our students improve their grades, create flexible campus jobs for our high-achievers, and enable additional pathways for post-graduate employment and corporate engagement.”

What Knack Offers Tutors and Tutees

Tutors who work on the Knack platform have a lot to gain. They can tutor any course in which they have received at least an A- and charge any rate, though Knack also offers pricing guides. Knack also offers marketing tools to reach potential students. Knack also offers badges. A bit like Airbnb’s “super host” designation, Knack ensures that exceptional tutors have a way to stand out. Best of all, unlike most sharing economy platforms, tutors use Knack for free. As they state on their website, if you’re a tutor, “you keep 100% of your earnings from students that you bring onto the platform – we even cover the cost of payment processing.”

While Knack is a great deal for tutors, students looking for tutors on their campus also have a lot to gain. Knack ensures one’s tutor is who she or he claims to be. More importantly, the platform, which enables tutors to set their own prices, offers students access to tutors in different price categories.