Like many of his classmates, Andrew Geant ’05 graduated from Princeton ready to pursue a career on Wall Street. But after growing frustrated by finance culture less than a month after starting his job, he paid back his signing bonus and quit.
That same year, Geant founded an online tutoring company called Wyzant with friend and classmate Mike Weishuhn ’05.
“I didn’t leave Wall Street for tutoring,” Geant recalled. “I left Wall Street to leave Wall Street, not knowing what I was going to do. And I think the reason for that was largely around culture.”
Many leave finance for similar reasons, but the short length of Geant’s tenure was rare. In need of an income shortly after quitting his job, he started privately tutoring math.
“The tutoring thing happened pretty fast. I sat around for a week feeling terrible about myself,” he said. Through his new job, he quickly realized both the impact and rarity of quality, one-on-one tutors.
According to Geant, in 2005, online tutors had few ways to promote themselves, and students struggled to find tutors as a result. “I kept talking to parents, and they basically kept saying, ‘It’s so hard to find a tutor,’” he explained.
After observing the tutoring market, Geant called Weishuhn, and they began working together to found Wyzant, an online company that uses technology to connect tutors and students. A few months after they moved in together in Washington, D.C., Weishuhn quit his consulting job to work full-time on the company.
In the beginning, Wyzant primarily served upper-income families seeking K-12 tutoring for academic subjects and test preparation. But in recent years, demand has shifted dramatically.
“The marketplace has a bit of a mind of its own in terms of what tutors offer and what students want to learn,” Geant added. In the past five years, the majority of Wyzant users have sought help with post-secondary education.
As a result, Wyzant has filled an important gap in the private tutoring marketplace. As Geant pointed out, “There hasn’t always been an easy way to find an epidemiology tutor if you’re a nursing student.”
Because they compete in an online marketplace and set their own rates, tutors usually make more through Wyzant than the standard $15-20 hourly pay at an in-person tutoring center run by a large company. The Wyzant model drives down prices for students and allows tutors to keep more of their earnings, leading to what Geant calls a “middle market” solution.
After bootstrapping the company, Geant and Weishuhn landed a $21.5 million investment in 2013 from Accel Partners, a venture capital firm. As Wyzant has grown, they’ve built a company culture far different from what Geant found on Wall Street. Employees can take paid days off to engage in community service and have access to unlimited Wyzant tutoring.
“That’s one of the coolest things about building a company,” Geant said. “To build it the way you want, and the culture, and the expectations, and the perks, and everything else.”