Clark, a venture-backed tutoring platform, will now help tutors build their own sites

A couple of years ago, Clark, a New York-based startup, appeared on the scene with tutoring software that aimed to both make it easier for educators to start and manage a tutoring business by handling on its platform all the work that tutors struggle to find time to do, from drumming up students, to managing scheduling and payments, to making it far simpler to communicate with parents.

Today the company is announcing a bit of a shift, moving away from simply selling access to its business software for a monthly subscription fee to now helping tutors set up their very own storefronts, replete with websites, certifications, marketing materials and even clients, which Clark will help them find.

How it will work, from a dollars standpoint: Clark will charge an upfront fee for setting up the business and getting it off the ground, then charge a smaller monthly fee for use of its software, which is 15 percent of sessions fees for students who are referred by Clark for the initial year, and then 15 percent of all sessions after that.

Called its “business in a box” product, it’s an interesting twist and part of a broader wave of startups that are capitalizing on the growing number of people who are self-employed, or who want to be, or who simply want to supplement their income with a “side hustle.” Bird’s recent decision to partner with local entrepreneurs in other parts of the world who will manage their own fleets of its electric scooters (and pay Bird a cut of their revenue), is another recent example. Clark may also have drawn inspiration from Wonderschool, a venture-backed startup that’s empowering early childhood educators to open their own in-home preschools or day cares while it handles the administration and logistics.

What teachers get with this new product, specifically, is support in building their business from the ground up, including website creation and branding, building a presence on review sites, marketing the business (including through search engine optimization), and a kind of bootcamp for managing a business that covers things like setting rates and managing clients, according to co-founder and CEO Megan O’Connor.

She also tells us that once a business is off the ground, customers will get access to the company’s software, which should allow them to schedule tutoring sessions, manage payments and invoices, give session feedback to parents through a communications tool and match with new students. Not least, Clark has a dedicated customer success team based in New York, says O’Connor, so clients have somewhere to turn.

According to Clark, the startup has so far facilitated roughly 20,000 tutoring sessions and it has hundreds of businesses across the country using its existing service. It’s because many of these clients weren’t sure how to get their businesses off the ground that Clark adopted this new model, which will also strive to connect parents with educators that match their children’s needs (parents have final say over who they ultimately hire).

Clark has raised $3.5 million to date, including from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Rethink Education, Flatworld Partners and Winklevoss Capital.

Whether its new direction speeds up its momentum remains an open question, but the company is operating in a huge market. According to some new market research on the global private tutoring opportunity, the market was valued at $96 billion in 2017, and it’s expected to generate more than $177 billion by 2026.