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Meet Ted Dorsey of Tutor Ted in West L.A.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ted Dorsey.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I first tutored a student for the SAT in 2000 when I was finishing my degree at Princeton. I remember just where I was when I got the phone call from the student telling me that she had improved her Verbal score by 110 points. That was the moment when I realized that what I did had a real impact—on that student’s opportunity to get into college, but also on her self-esteem!

I moved to L.A. to become a screenwriter and decided to be a test prep tutor as the way to pay the bills. It quickly became much more than that. I filled my schedule within a couple of months. Looking back at my schedule, I cannot believe how packed my schedule was. I’d see students from 8am until 8pm on the weekends and from 12:30pm until 10pm on weekdays! I am definitely not young or crazy enough to do that anymore.

I started passing my extra students to trusted friends, some of whom still tutor with me today.

I hired someone to answer the phones and emails and to handle billing.

In 2010, we wrote our first book. It was truly collaborative; I had five of my friends and tutors writing on it. We published it and had a good amount of success selling it on Amazon.

That led to more books, four of which are available now, plus a deck of vocabulary flashcards, and complete online courses for the SAT and ACT—all available at tutorted.com.

Along the way, we’ve developed relationships with local schools and after school drop-in centers like the Bresee Foundation. We’ve been blessed with the good fortune of a thriving business, and we see it as our responsibility to spread that good fortune onto others.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The challenge of doing it all yourself? You have to learn to do it all yourself. I’ve learned about publishing, web design, video editing, employment law, marketing, you name it. It’s tough running into a steep learning curve. Experience tells you you’re going to survive, but you still have to grind to make any progress.

Tutor Ted – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our specialty is SAT and ACT prep, and within that topic, we offer what we call “Non-Boring Test Prep.” I believe wholeheartedly that education only happens when students are engaged. If a teacher is teaching and the students are not listening… what is the point? From a practical perspective, the return on the energy invested is very low. From an emotional perspective, is anyone having a good time in that situation? If we can engage students, we can make much more progress AND have a great time while we do. That, to me, is the ideal formula for successful education.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I think a lot of people define success in terms of money—how much you make, how big your brand is, how much you’ve grown. I prefer to think of success as a measure of impact—how much better you’ve made other people’s lives. I recently wrote a thank you note to someone who kindly and generously advised me when I was in my 20s. I told him what a positive impact he’d made on me. Then I realized that his impact on me had inspired me to make a positive impact on others. If we all take the positive energy that’s been invested in us and multiply it by sharing it with others—that is success.

Pricing:

  • $0 — free classes with Tutor Ted this summer at tutorted.com
  • $17.95-$24.95 for Tutor Ted’s books on Amazon
  • Private tutoring for the SAT and ACT for as little as $133/hour

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jorge Villalba

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