The hardest decision a founder can make is knowing when to throw in the towel. Tutorspree, a company that was founded in 2011 and raised $US1.8 million, just did that.
Tutorspree was a platform that connected local tutors to students in need. It graduated from the prestigious startup accelerator program, Y Combinator and was founded by a former Wall Street worker, Aaron Harris, along with Josh Abrams and Ryan Bednar.
“Ultimately, we learned about the challenges of willing a company into existence, of building an incredible and unique team to tackle constantly shifting challenges,” the founders wrote this morning on the company’s blog. “And finally, we learned about how to make the toughest decision of all – to shut Tutorspree down, not because it was not a business, but because we could not make it the company we wanted.”
Tutorspree is one of a few startups to close recently in New York City, but PandoDaily’s Erin Griffith says it didn’t shut down for financial reasons. It was able to secure $US800,000 from Resolute.vc earlier this year. Griffith says the trio will be returning remaining money to investors.
Instead, the problem may have been what the founders wrote: that they were “willing a company into existence.” And sometimes, businesses can’t be forced. Griffith says the company was too reliant on Google traffic, suggesting the founders failed to build a loyal user base and a go-to brand.
Here’s the letter the founders wrote this morning:
When we started Tutorspree, close to three years ago, we had a vision for how private education should work. As we worked towards that vision, with the help of thousands of tutors and customers over the course tens of thousands of hours of lessons, we learned quite a bit. We learned what constituted good one-on-one tutoring, what a good relationship looked like, and how badly people need great tutors.
One of our tutors taught a six year old about science with a robot LEGO claw that picked up cookies. Another helped an 11th grader pass summer exams to make it into 12th grade. We sent tutors to private homes in LA, hotels in NYC, yachts halfway around the world, and coffee shops in San Francisco. Through it all, we kept learning new lessons.
Ultimately, we learned about the challenges of willing a company into existence, of building an incredible and unique team to tackle constantly shifting challenges. And finally, we learned about how to make the toughest decision of all – to shut Tutorspree down, not because it was not a business, but because we could not make it the company we wanted.
Thank you to all of our friends, mentors, advisors, investors, tutors, and customers for making this the best thing any of us have ever done. And thank you to Chung-Yi, Georges, Zach, Rebecca, Thomas, Julia, and Paul for helping us come so far.
Aaron, Josh, and Ryan
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