Meet Alykhan, Cedric, Jordan, Marco, Nathaniel, and Raffaello, the founders of the new and upcoming tutoring marketplace, UpGrade. Keep reading to find out more about UpGrade and how it can benefit you as a student in the future.
Anna Stuber for Her Campus McGill (HC McGill): Can you explain what UpGrade is?
UpGrade Team (UG): UpGrade Tutoring is a marketplace for students and tutors alike designed to be your one-stop shop for tutoring at McGill. We help match students with quality tutors, whether they need one instantly or a week from now. Our purpose for tutors is to eliminate all of their overhead. We make it easy for them to accept a request, meet with their student, and get paid without having to deal with the headaches of advertising and scheduling. We want to empower anyone to become a tutor.
HC McGill: Who founded UpGrade?
UG: The founders are Alykhan Jina, Cedric Spothelfer, Jordan Stein, Marco d’Amore, Nathaniel Williams, and Raffaello d’Amore. We are all roommates so whether we’re making brunch, in a meeting, or sipping Marco’s homebrew we’re always refining our vision for UpGrade.
HC McGill: Where did the idea for UpGrade come from?
UG: One morning during finals last semester, Alykhan and Raff needed a tutor for a Comp Sci. course. They realized that the tutoring market was a mess. The same students who read reviews on Amazon for everything they buy, rely on Uber for hassle-free transportation, and even use Tinder to screen potential hookups have no idea what to expect when they pull a tutor’s information off of a bulletin board.
Within a few minutes of sharing the idea, the whole team was on board and fired up. This past summer, we all worked to define our vision. From an entrepreneurship course at Stanford, to internships in San Francisco, Vancouver, and New York, and dozens of meetings with mentors, we made a plan to redefine the McGill tutoring scene.
HC McGill: What’s the most rewarding part of being the founders?
UG: So far, the most rewarding part of UpGrade has been the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received from both students and tutors. Busy students are excited about easily making money by becoming tutors and sharing their knowledge with their classmates.
HC McGill: What are your goals for UpGrade?
UG: We’ve built UpGrade to test our assumptions about our long-term vision and build a network of students and tutors that are excited about the service. Our short-term goals include increasing our monthly sessions, refining our process of matching students with tutors, continuing to build our brand on campus, and increasing the knowledge of all the students using our service!
HC McGill: Tell me about the vision for the company and its future.
UG: In the long run, we want UpGrade to become a fixture on the McGill campus. Our long-term goal is to build a mobile marketplace with peer-reviewed tutors for every course at McGill. We want every student at McGill to know they can turn to UpGrade for all their academic needs. Once we build a large enough community at McGill, we will expand and eventually redefine the way people share knowledge. Everyone has something to share, and everyone has something to learn.
HC McGilll: Is this service open to only McGill students?
UG: For now, we are only targeting McGill students. We’ve built a network of connections on the McGill campus, making it easier for us to build our brand. Furthermore, we are focused on offering quality over quantity and only want to match a student with a tutor that we know will do an excellent job. We believe that by providing the platform for McGill students to meet and share their knowledge the whole campus will be better off.
HC McGill: How can students get involved and learn more about the service?
UG: The first way for people to get involved with UpGrade is to reach out to us to become a tutor. We will have a quick onboarding conversation with you, and soon after that we’ll send you your first clients!
We’re fully dedicating ourselves to UpGrade, and we love to hear from people who are excited about our idea. If you want to get involved, please contact us on our Facebook page, visit our website, or send us an email at [email protected].
Images provided by interviewees.