With the onset of the coronavirus, John Failla’s Trilogy Mentors, an online platform matching students with academic tutors and mentors, has taken off and just completed a $1.1 million seed funding round with multiple investors, having formed a partnership with Tuscany Strategy Consulting, a Baltimore-based firm that works with businesses in education, health care and business services.
The Scarsdale High School class of 2011 graduate said his team began as an in-person tutoring company, logging 1,000 hours of instruction in the first year. But in 2017, the first year Trilogy Mentors offered online services, users logged 2,500 hours of instruction and 6,000 hours the following year. “We were using a fragmented system — different resources for billing, video capabilities, chat functionality,” Failla shared. “This didn’t offer the best student experience, so we decided to explore our own proprietary platform.”
When the Richmond-based startup company — Failla went to the University of Richmond — participated in StartED, an education and workforce tech accelerator in New York, it learned of a new software-as-service business model, enabling tutoring services of all sizes to license its technology platform to provide instruction. It launched its version in August 2019 and by February, there were about 700 users participating in 16,000 minutes of online instruction. By May, users were logging 160,000 minutes.
“By April 1, almost 100% of tutoring in the U.S, was done online because of stay-at-home orders,” Failla said. “We were positioned to help them go online by using our platform. The real reason we have been doing so well over the last few months is we have been able to leverage our experience as an online tutoring company.”
Trilogy Mentors not only works with individual freelance tutors looking to grow their businesses but also guides larger organizations via an online platform to help both the student and educator.
Failla is the University of Richmond Robins School of Business’ inaugural Founder in Residence, working with students to provide guidance and mentorship, and lending his knowledge and experience as a successful entrepreneur. “There are many pathways to entrepreneurship. But large gaps exist between the idea and the next step. I want to help students get pen to paper and move on it, not waste 10 years pursuing an idea that doesn’t work,” Failla said.
Failla said Trilogy Mentors plans to use the investment to build its staff — it has 12 full-time and part-time employees now — and to further develop its technology.