Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Educator to Entrepreneur

Eric Clark

Eric Clark

Eric Clark, the founder and CEO of Quincy Tutoring, began his journey in a small town in Vermont. From early on, Clark knew that he wanted to teach 8th grade math, so after he graduated from high school, he set off for Eastern Nazarene College.

Clark got his degree and began teaching, but he soon realized that he wanted to give his students something more. He began to see a need for affordable test prep services for middle school students who wanted to attend private high schools.

In 2007, this need was met through Quincy Tutoring, an offline tutor network designed to provide academic support and SAT prep for a fraction of the cost of larger test prep companies. In March of 2011, Clark launched an online version of his tutoring network that is free for both parents and tutors to use. Clark hopes that this network will be a resource that will benefit the Quincy community.

Quincy TutoringQuincy Tutoring is run by two employees: Clark and Jeremy Denlea. Denlea is the standardized test expert. He has been on the team for about a year, and is sold on the mission: helping those who are underserved. Like Clark, Denlea is more than willing to go above and beyond to help the students outside of the classroom at a discounted rate. In addition to the two executives, Quincy Tutoring employs about forty tutors, many of whom are current teachers or college students.

Clark is looking to bring his business model to other cities across the country, especially college towns. His website allows students to host their tutoring profile for free, giving them the chance to earn some extra income and build their résumés while they are in school. This serves two populations: both the low-income, academically disadvantaged students who first drew Clark’s attention, and those who have already made it into the high school or college of their dreams and are looking for a fulfilling and profitable way to help others.

Quincy Tutoring generates no revenue from tutors or parents. The test prep classes, which provide students with eight hours’ worth of preparation, are $250. However, Clark stresses that if finances are an issue, Quincy Tutoring will gladly work with you and meet you half way. Students have been given discounts for up to 50% off of the standard price. “Don’t let money stop you from looking into our services,” Clark urges.

SAT scores are the barrier for a lot of kids to get into college. Affordable test preparation can level the playing field for kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds, allowing them a shot at the education they want and deserve. Clark wanted to provide a resource for students that would not limit them.

“Access to education is huge for me. If I can play a small part in helping some of our local students to achieve that, I’ll be satisfied,” says Clark. Many colleges use merit-based scholarships as their primary financial aid awards. Therefore, many students have two strikes against them: not only can they not afford college, but they don’t have the SAT scores for the merit-based scholarships. By providing affordable test prep and tutoring services, Clark can help with both challenges.

Currently, Clark is relying on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for his social media marketing. This has been one of the biggest transitions for Clark, as he has had to learn how to network effectively online. The social media piece is a huge and growing part of business marketing, allowing entrepreneurs free access to web relationships. The biggest thing is navigating between web and personal relationships.

Clark recommends Chris Brogan’s blogs (http://www.chrisbrogan.com/) for social entrepreneurs looking for instruction and inspiration. He also recommends following other social entrepreneurs on Twitter to learn how they use social media. The Internet is a powerful marketing tool, and paying attention to how others use it can be very educational. You don’t need to take a course in marketing to create a Twitter account for your business or to learn how to use that account effectively. Just follow those whose business models you admire.

Quincy Tutoring does have some built-in Search Engine Optimizations, such as key words for blog posts, but Clark says that he’s still learning the ins and outs of SEOs. There are a lot of services and products available for online marketing, but while many of them look flashy, they are not all worthwhile. It can be hard to differentiate between the two, and Clark is wary about jumping into something he’s not sure of.

Clark reminds other social entrepreneurs to look at the big picture. “When I first got into education, I was in the mindset that I just wanted to teach. I thought my only outcome would be teaching in an eighth grade classroom.” Don’t be afraid to combine different disciplines. Never limit yourself to what you thought you wanted to do. Allow yourself to be creative and to think outside of the box.

Most importantly, you must persevere. There will be times when it would be easy to call it quits, because you’re not seeing the outcome you wanted or expected to see. But persevere, trust your gut, and take risks. Being a social entrepreneur, or philanthropic in any capacity, is a good way to do something for your community and get the word out there. You don’t have to give money to help your community. You can always give of your talents if you can’t give of your means.

For more information go to www.quincytutoring.com, and follow Quincy Tutoring on Facebook and Twitter. www.facebook.com/quincytutoring and www.twitter.com/quincytutoring

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5 Responses to “Educator to Entrepreneur”

  1. Great write up about Eric. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him through social media and he’s a genuine guy with a passion for helping kids succeed. I hope his network expands to other states and becomes the standard for tutoring sites both parents, teachers and students.

  2. Desiree Russell says:

    I have had the pleasure of meeting Eric and also attended a homework workshop he did for the Quincy PAC. It was his workshop and his passion for helping all children succeed that led me to his tutoring network. We have been working with one of his tutors for several months and it has been a wonderful and rewarding experience. Eric has created a great resource here in Quincy, and it would be great to see his network expand to other communities.

  3. Eric Clark says:

    Your kind words are truly humbling, thank you so much!

    Eric

  4. winagni says:

    It is really great article, thanks for sharing everything and helping everyone

  5. Jeff Mizenko says:

    I love the “out of the box” approach. Or better said, is it really out of the box anymore. Based on how we’re doing as a nation relative to education in general, we need to see more out of the box approaches. Why? The box isn’t working!

    The best to ya Erik! How are things going since March?
    Jeff

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