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University of Iowa Student Launches Online Tutor Marketplace

Two University of Iowa students have built a website that will widen a tutor’s ability to get paid, while providing those who need help a better selection.

Hung Viet Tran, who will defend his dissertation for a doctorate in computer science later this month, and co-founder Thomas Hornbeck launched Tutor Universe this week after roughly 18 months of beta testing.

Tran said in an email that the site aims to solve a number of problems he and Hornbeck noticed while tutoring other students in computer science.

“We want to build Tutor Universe to be the social marketplace for online tutoring for everyone in the world,” he said.

As a tutor, Tran said he noticed an imbalance of tutors in certain subjects at his school. For example, while a good number of students can tutor others in writing, the market at the UI for writing tutors is not that deep.

But with Tutor Universe, those writing tutors can offer their services to students at other universities.

Right now, “students have to stick with local tutors and vice versa,” Tran said. “We want to break the geographical distance barrier so students have more choices and they can find tutors everywhere in the world.”

The site is community- and market-driven. Tran likens it to an eBay-like environment, where tutors and learners join the marketplace to buy and sell their time. The site includes virtual study rooms and social media components built in.

In addition, feedback will be accepted to show community ratings for tutors.

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