Honors Theses

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Management

First Advisor

Owens Alexander

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

This thesis consists of a review of the history of tutoring and homework up to the modern day; the original business plan used to launch Shortwork LLC, an online tutoring company, in the Spring of 2018; and a post-operative analysis of its business model and executive decision-making, as well as discussion about the future of education. The business plan includes a competitive analysis of the online tutoring market, an overview of Shortwork’s management structure, an explanation of its product model and technology, and both the financial and strategic details of its Spring 2018 plans for 3-year growth. The concluding section of this thesis, written one year after founding, examines Shortwork’s successes and failures, resulting in critiques to the original business strategy, as well as the role technology could continue to play in education. Formal education, which developed in different cultures millennia ago, requires only two fundamental elements: an instructor and a student. As formal education has expanded, so too have the number of instructors and students, but not at the same rate. As student populations have outpaced instructor populations, the individuality of instruction has declined. The tutoring industry exists today because students struggle outside of the classroom and not just inside it. For the most part, it has mimicked the classroom experience; tutors meeting in person with students to teach a subject. One of the primary roles of tutors today is to assist with homework, the take-home portion of most students’ education that evolved generations ago. The digital revolution, however, has allowed online learning to challenge the traditional mold of study aids such as tutors. Shortwork was founded to provide students with an affordable, online solution to the all-too-common problem of needing homework help. The service was built around its founders’ experience helping real high schoolers, and early versions of the service tested well with current students. Its early success carried promise, and the company attracted over $10,000 in competition prizes within only three months of establishment as an LLC. Due to poor choice in target market and diverging entrepreneurial visions for the company, however, Shortwork failed to maintain its momentum over the summer after its founding. By the end of 2018, its founders had decided to suspend the service until further notice. This thesis examines why they came to that decision.

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Engineering Commons

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