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Lee is a friend of mine. Although he is a lot younger than me, we have always enjoyed “trading” ideas. Well, Lee has hit the jackpot with his tutoring business. Here’s a young man who took an idea and ran with it…look around your future business may be looking you in the face.
Thanks to Oxford Citizens paper in Oxford, MS for allowing the reprint of their article!
Lee Ingram was taking an accounting course at Ole Miss last summer, when it occurred to him that there were very few higher learning tutors in Oxford. As some of his classmates were struggling, Ingram put up some flyers for tutoring around town. What he got was an overwhelming response- sixteen Ole Miss accounting students signed up for his help that summer. Serving that many students at once and in such a short condensed period, Ingram realized he wanted and needed to expand his tutoring business into a small company to meet student demands.
“Last year, June 2015, I had just completed rigorous accounting courses and felt good about my accounting knowledge. I knew summer classes were coming up and summer courses are even more rigorous because everything is condensed in such a small time period. The amount of students looking for extra help really shocked and overwhelmed me. I worked really hard but it was difficult to manage everything by myself. I immediately started brainstorming, and step by step Higher Learning Tutoring, LLC came into fruition,” Ingram said.
Ingram considers Higher Learning Tutoring to be Oxford’s premier tutoring agency, and even refers to it as the “Uber” of tutoring. Higher Learning works by going to the website (HLOXFORD.com) and first choosing your subject and course. Then you choose your tutor and select what day and time is most convenient for you. The final step is submitting your information and you can pay for your session online with a debit or credit card.
“Since we’ve started, we’ve served over 100 students, with over 500 hours of tutoring with a hundred percent positive feedback,” Ingram said. “We’ve worked with Greek organizations and helped their chapter grade point average rise by three points. I think these stats are really indicative of how we’re doing.”
Right now the courses offered for tutoring on the Higher Learning website are: Accounting 201, 202, 303, 304 309, Spanish 202, and Business Calculus I. Ingram hopes to expand and add more courses to the mix soon. For the Fall 2016 semester, Ingram plans on developing a stronger social media presence. He also wants to get other students involved in managing it and there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity to help his business grow.
“For a year we weren’t even online, it was kind of a word of mouth thing. The Accounting program at Ole Miss has prepared me to start my own business. I developed the website a month ago and built it myself. If you have an idea you should just run with it. I think a lot of people have ideas for entrepreneurship-just don’t let fear get the best of you because there’s nothing holding you back but yourself. There’s so much technology now out there to help you. If you stay focused on customers and how to give them a good experience, you could make a business very successful,” Ingram said. “This is a lean startup, a basic minimal product, which is different than a traditional business plan model. We’re listening to our customers every day instead of anticipating their needs.”
Ingram said his long-term goal is to maintain a high level of quality and fulfill the need of his customers. “It’s not always about tutoring, sometimes it’s academic mentoring, helping students build their confidence. Some will pay for five hours a week. I want to help students with tutoring at an affordable price, and also I’m helping the students who tutor build resume experience.”
Ingram shares a story about one of his tutors interviewing to get into medical school, and the school was really receptive and impressed that she did so much tutoring and helped other students with Biology. “The experience was really valuable and tutors also have the need to make extra money. Since our website is fully functional, it automatically connects you with a tutor. Now that I have this system I can add tutors a lot more efficiently. Before I hire someone, I meet with them, interview them, and require a professor recommendation from them. Finding tutors kind of spread by word of mouth, but I also have an application form for interested students online. Of course I will look at their grades before I let someone tutor another student.”
Ingram graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting this spring, May 2016. The next step for him is to get his masters in accounting, and later get his CPA. When Ingram isn’t working on his business, or school, he relieves stress by playing drums in a local band, Carlos Danger. He also works as an accountant at a local business in Oxford.
“One reason I think Higher Learning stands out is because we’re students who have been in these courses recently. Other companies hire people who might have taken the same class 20 years ago, who might not know how the material is tested on now. We’re an incredibly efficient service with technology- other companies are run by people who aren’t college students. They’re taking checks by mail and we have a website that processes debit and credit cards electronically,” Ingram said. “I think to get people excited about what you’re doing is entrepreneurship.”
Visit HLOXFORD.com or call 662-995-0115 if you’re interested in Ole Miss tutoring services.
(pictured are Lee’s Parents…Mr. and Mrs. Reed Ingram of Madison)