A Cal Poly business student and a recent business graduate have launched a new company that will allow tutors from the university to work with high school students online.
The Web-based company CloudTutor was started by 22-year-old Prashant Vanka and 21-year-old Alex Patman.
CloudTutor works like a phone and chat system but with software to easily write out problems or formulas on a “digital whiteboard” so the students can see the diagrams and learn remotely.
The company has about 15 Cal Poly tutors lined up and is working to get tutors from other universities, including UCLA.
Patman said the program is geared specifically to help with science and math, but students can get help with any subject, and tutors are available to help with essay writing.
“It offers the convenience of working out of the comfort of one’s home,” Patman said. “It also cuts out the driving and meeting time and any discomfort a student might have about a face-to-face meeting.”
The tutoring service is currently being offered for free with the idea that high school students would be charged $25 to $30 per hour once the development phase is over.
Patman and Vanka have already worked with several local high schools to try out the system during its testing phase, including Mission Prep as well as San Luis Obispo, Nipomo and Paso Robles high schools.
“I was most interested in the program because it provided one-on-one live tutoring to students at a time that they generally didn’t have help with homework — in the evenings,” said Jennifer Chassman, an assistant principal at Mission Prep. “While not a lot of our students are using the system, those that are find it quite helpful and tend to utilize the services regularly.”
Vanka, who lives in Mountain View, said relatives helped with the computer programming.
“Basically, we’ve made it so it’s just like sitting down next to the person and working on something — except you’re doing it online,” Vanka said.
The launches of CloudTutor and other companies started by Cal Poly students have been encouraged by Jonathan York, who heads the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The center aims to connect students and the business community to launch innovative and entrepreneurial ideas.
CloudTutor has received mentoring from business professionals associated with the center and worked with York on obtaining seed money, which is still being sought.
Almost 50 Cal Poly student-led businesses have been connected with mentoring assistance, and 45 students have earned internship opportunities with local companies throughout California through the center, which launched last year.