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COURTESY PHOTO
Miguel Kudry, CEO and founder of HelpHub

By Tom Spencer, Staff Writer

A tutor for a challenging course may only be a few taps on your phone away. The app HelpHub is designed to connect students with mentors and provide the mentors with an opportunity to make money from the service.

Miguel Kudry, the CEO and founder of HelpHub, came up with the idea for the program while he was in college at Douglas College, in New Westminster, BC, Canada. HelpHub’s origins are a phone tutoring service in 2013, according to Kudry. Soon instant messaging, video chat and interactive whiteboards were added to the mix.

Kudry reports that thousands of students and tutors have registered with the app since its launch on Jan. 15. HelpHub was an idea which Sora Capital, an investment firm based in New York, thought was worth a $250,000 investment, according to a HelpHub press release.

“I wanted to be able to ask people any question without having to go through traditional tutoring services that would require me to schedule sessions in advance, and even meet with someone,” Kudry said in an email.

HelpHub users may sign in as a student or a tutor. Then users can search for tutors by subject, and message the tutors directly. Tutors make profiles with brief bios, and a list of the subjects in which they give aid.

The HelpHub starts users out by providing them with $10 worth of credits. These may be transferred to tutors for services. While the app is a marketplace, it is possible to simply send a message to potential tutors for free.

While there are no prerequisites to becoming a tutor, tutors earn Tutor Karma points when users review their responsiveness and quality.

“…[Most] of the quality control is based on students’ reviews and ratings on tutors, and their overall responsiveness on the site,” Kudry said.

According to Kudry, HelpHub has tutors from over 700 schools and over 60 countries.

HelpHub makes a profit by collecting 15 percent commission for any transaction between students and tutors. Tutors set their own rates, and students can review the quality of the service.

Pat Thompson, a freshman business administration and finance major at UNH, discussed his own experience with HelpHub.

“[HelpHub] does not provide on the spot results like Khan Academy or Google. That’s a trade off,” Thompson said.

“I could not see this as my primary form of furthering my education, because of the lack of guaranteed response or readily available information,” Thompson said.

Thompson noted that the user experience was smooth and intuitive, but the search engine brings up a broad range of tutors.

“…[If] you could narrow your searches in what you’re looking for in a tutor, that would help,” Thompson said.

With that being said, Thompson felt that the tutor profiles were appealing features.

“The social media aspect is nice. It’s a more personalized feel than a website,” Thompson said.

Ceara Sweetser, a math tutor at UNH, felt the program was limited by the context of video calling. Sweetser said she often helps her sister with math homework via video calling.

“It’s a lot of ‘here, let me tilt the computer screen or phone so you can read the page,’” Sweetser said.

Sweetser also pointed out that unlike the tutors on HelpHub, UNH’s program is free.

However, HelpHub does provide human beings who can answer questions, something a typical search engine or website does not provide.

“It could help you with very specific questions,” Sweetser said. “That’s something you don’t get from a site like Khan academy.”

Anabelle May, a HelpHub tutor whose profile advertises that she teaches English, French, and SAT preparation reported she had a “positive” experience working with HelpHub.

“The students I have worked in-depth with here have been absolutely lovely,” May said. “This is the first tutoring service where I haven’t come across any kind of scammers or the like.”

Though not with HelpHub, May said she has had poor experiences with payment in previous tutoring experiences.

Overall, May indicated that HelpHub’s biggest appeal is the flexibility.

“Working on HelpHub has been wonderful, though,” May said. “I make my own schedule, and I get to choose who I work with. I would definitely recommend this service to both students and tutors.”

Follow Tom Spencer on Twitter at @TZpen