I dropped out of UCLA at 19 years old to pursue a startup that connects tutors & students. With only $800, I bootstrapped the company well into 7 figures in revenue without taking on a single dollar in capital. AMA!

Ryan Neman
May 21, 2018

My name is Ryan Neman and I co-founded HeyTutor (www.heytutor.com) with my long time high school friend Skyler Lucci. HeyTutor is a hyper-local marketplace that connects tutors and students. We currently offer more than 250 subjects and work with over 7,000 tutors in the US. Our HQ is in Los Angeles, CA, and our full-time team of 12 works out of a house that my co-founder and I live in. #startuplife

My partner and I founded the company in 2013 with only $800 at 19 years old. We managed to bootstrap the company well into 7 figures in revenue without taking on any capital. In this AMA I'll be happy to speak about my experience running a startup at a young age with limited resources. I am a firm believer in being scrappy and creative when starting your business. Make it work at a small scale, and slowly add fuel to the fire.  I'll also be happy to speak about anything business related;  from growth hacks, to running a team, to fundraising. AMA!

Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 6.04.42 PM.png

What is the Vibe of this AMA? What is AMA Vibe?

This AMA has finished, no more comments and questions can be posted and votes submitted to those. Check other similar AMAs here or host your own AMA!

Conversation (61)

In three easy steps and under a minute you could be hosting your own AMA. Join our passionate community of AMA hosts and schedule your own AMA today.

Let's get started!

What is HeyTutor doing this better than a bigger tech platform company?
May 25, 1:19PM EDT0
For all the people out there wanting to become entrepreneurs, what are the biggest challenges to starting a business?
May 25, 7:32AM EDT0
What gets your excited and leaping out of bed in the morning?
May 24, 8:57PM EDT0
Do you plan to scale your team in the next 12 months?
May 24, 10:49AM EDT0
In your opinion, what are the biggest mistakes made by startup entrepreneurs?
May 24, 10:28AM EDT0

What do you consider some of your biggest lessons learned in running a company?

May 22, 4:42PM EDT0
Did you ever feel disrespected by colleagues just because you’re so young?
May 21, 7:31PM EDT0

Hi Anaggc,

I would stay at an early stage (first/second employee), there was a lot of doubt that people had working with us. We are extremely transparent with all of our employees, so they know exactly what they are getting into before they join our team. But they were still doubtful. It seemed like anyone willing to work with us early on was desperate for a job, and once they found something better they would move on without hestitation. Early on, our churn was horrendus - we couldn't keep an employee longer than 1/2 months. As you slowly get more established and more organzied, employees will feel safer and more secure working with you. They also want to see more upside, which we couldn't offer very early on. 

Also, as you can imagine, it can get boring working with 1-2 people every day. It's like a snowball effect, the more employees you have the more employees you'll attract.

Last edited @ May 21, 9:21PM EDT.
May 21, 8:11PM EDT0
Now that you have enough revenue, do you have plans on moving to a larger office?
May 21, 7:16PM EDT0

Hi Daniloza,

We definitely still want to continue being as economical as possible until we secure a Series A round of fundraising. The question we ask ourselves is: could we afford a separate designated office? Yes... But would we see a better return investing the money in marketing and continuing to scale? 

Our focus since day one has been growth, and that remains our focus today. Our rule is simple: if it doesn't help the company grow, don't invest in it.

Also, I would not want you to get the wrong idea - where we work is an office before a home. The entire house is furnished as an office with the exception of our bedrooms. It's also located in prime West Hollywood. It's a beautiful home with tons of natural light. Our employees actually prefer this environment versus a commercial office. 

May 21, 8:24PM EDT0

would love to learn more about your pace from starting small scale and growing. we have committed more than $800, but like you feel being scrappy is the way to go. but we need to grow to survive, delicate balance. look forward to hearing from you

May 21, 4:47PM EDT0

Hi Jam,

I agree completely - maintaining the right balance was one of our most diffucult hurdles. At a certain point we were spending as if we were funded, and realized that we had to slow down because our customer lifespan is over 1 year. Our ROI was not instant - we had to wait for our customer LTV to pay off. We had to find a sweet spot.

We managed to bootstrap our CAGR to 152% YoY. I should mention that we also didn't initially start as HeyTutor. We started as a tutoring agency taking calls off a cell phone and manually matching students with tutors, and we slowly automated the process until we ended up with HeyTutor.

Last edited @ May 21, 9:23PM EDT.
May 21, 8:51PM EDT1
How do you screen the tutors that would sign up to your page?
May 21, 3:43PM EDT0

Hi Zella,

Great question. We have a 6 step application process followed by a phone call interview. We also offer background checks for $9.00 through GoodHire, which screens for SSN trace, sex offender records, as well as criminal records. 

May 21, 8:55PM EDT0
Are you considering building another website for a different service in the future?
May 21, 2:19PM EDT0

Hi Paola,

For the time being my focus is completely on HeyTutor. Once we start to reach a peak, I would definitely be open to new ventures :)

May 21, 8:56PM EDT0
Do you have plans to write a book about your business experience?
May 21, 1:58PM EDT0

Hi Uworkbt,

It really depends on the future of HeyTutor and how far we are able to take it. Depending on the exit, I would consider writing about my experience. Maybe not a full book, but I would share my story.

May 21, 8:58PM EDT0
Did you have to set up crowdfunding for your business, or was the $800 enough?
May 21, 7:46AM EDT0

Hi Djan,

We never crowdfunded or received money from family/friends. We were able to run our business on $800 because we did everything ourselves. If we wanted a website, we went on wix.com and created one ourselves. If we wanted to make a contract, we would find a template online and tweak it ourselves. If we wanted to find students, we would print flyers and post it on walls ourselves. We were bread on self-sufficiency. 

You can pay anyone to do almost anything. But you can also teach yourself to do almost anything. If we didn't know how to do something, we looked online and figured it out the hard way. 

Last edited @ May 21, 9:00PM EDT.
May 21, 9:00PM EDT0
Why tutors? What made you interested in setting up this business?
May 21, 6:20AM EDT0

Hi Nour,

I did a bit of tutoring in High School, so I knew the industry. I mainly started the company due to low barriers to entry. We started off simple: a website, a cell phone, and a few tutors. 

May 21, 9:04PM EDT0
Are you still in great terms with Skyler Lucci? What’s it like working with a business partner/co-founder?
May 21, 6:00AM EDT0

Hi Christiandale, 

We are definitely still on great terms. As with any parter, you're bound to have your differences and arguments, but it's about overcomming them and learning how to avoid the next one. I've definitely learned how to compromise and better present an argument or case. You need to be willing to sacrifice and compromise in order to have a successful business relationship with your partner. 

May 21, 9:10PM EDT0
Your tutor services are only for college students only?
May 21, 5:35AM EDT0

Hi Ena,

Definitely not! We offer over 250 subjects from Pre-K to College.

May 21, 9:11PM EDT0
Do you have plans to pursue further studies in the future, or complete your course in UCLA?
May 21, 12:55AM EDT0

Hi Fleurgummy,

At this point I think I've learned far more from my venture than I could have learned at UCLA. I'd consider a masters business program, but it looks like my time will be tied up for the near future.

May 21, 9:16PM EDT0
Where do you see hey tutor years from today? What’s the goal?
May 20, 9:14PM EDT0

Hi Pikomonde, 

Our goal is to be the largest educational resource in the world. We plan to provide tons of free lesson plans and practice tests, as well as crash courses for subjects that students are neglected of learning in school. Such as taxes, mortages, budgeting, etc. We also plan on providing career training for numerous jobs.

May 21, 9:20PM EDT0
Are students the only ones using the tutor service, or are there also professionals who simply want to learn more?
May 20, 7:29PM EDT0

Hi Marie, 

We definitely work with many professionals who want to learn anything from coding to yoga. HeyTutor can be a supplement for career training. 

May 22, 4:55PM EDT0
How did it feel when you realized you’re onto the 7-figure revenue mark?
May 20, 5:19PM EDT0

Hi Marinaperin,

Great question. At first we never thought we would hit 200k, then 500k, then 1M, then 2M, and to be honest - It's never as satisfying as you're expecting it to be. The point is, your goals consistently increase as you strive to keep growing and growing. 

May 22, 4:59PM EDT0
About #StartupAMA

Welcome to #StartupAMA, an AMA Event channel for founders, startups, and their ventures.

The #StartupAMA channel is owned and operated by AMAfeed, LLC.