Westfield High School students Liam Lloyd and Alexa Jimenez got their first taste of entrepreneurism when they had a problem and wanted to find a way to solve it. They recently developed an app called Tutor Us to assist high school students with tutoring. The creation won the Innovate WithIN regional competition pitch and will proceed to the June 10 state finals.
Lloyd and Jiminez are students in WHS teacher John Moore’s entrepreneurship class. One of the class projects was to create a business plan. Lloyd, who had recently moved to the U.S. from Mexico, needed help finding a tutor. Lloyd knew basic English, and although he was always an exceptional student in Mexico, the language barrier proved difficult in the U.S.
“English was tough for me,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd saw that WHS National Honors Society students had a tutoring program, but when he tried to find a tutor, it took two weeks to schedule a session.
“So, that wasn’t really working,” he said.
For their entrepreneurship project, Lloyd and Jiminez decided to create an app that would connect students with tutors. Jiminez partnered with Lloyd on the project because she had difficulty finding a tutor to when she needed help with coursework when the school was on hybrid scheduled during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The students started creating the app earlier this year and are still developing it.
“It’s an app that works within high school educational systems,” Lloyd said. “The high school subscribes to the app, which helps students find tutors, but the tutors are also students from the same high school. So, if I need help with algebra, I go into the app and tutors appear.”
Jiminez said the app is free for students. Tutors are National Honors Society students.
“The form of payment would be their service hours,” Lloyd said.
In the entrepreneurship class, Lloyd and Jiminez took the project to the next level.
“They identified a good problem, and in entrepreneurship, that’s the first thing we look at is a problem and a solution,” Moore said. “They did market research and realized this is a real problem. A lot of students have good ideas but they don’t like to put the work in. Liam and Alexa absolutely put the work in to get this where it’s going.”
Moore saw Tutor Us’s potential and encouraged the students to submit it for the Westfield Chamber of Commerce Shark Tank competition. The students won the competition and $1,500 for their business, which they plan to use to pay app programmers.
Lloyd and Jiminez then competed in The STARTedUP Foundation’s Innovate WithIN regional pitch competition with 73 other teams. To their surprise, they won the regional pitch April 21.
Next, Lloyd and Jiminez will compete in the June 10 Innovate WithIN state finals at Butler University. The winner of the state competition will receive $25,000 in seed funding to build their business, $10,000 each toward a 529 education funding plan and a $6,000 once-in-a-lifetime entrepreneurial travel experience.
Regardless of if the Lloyd and Jiminez win state, they still plan to launch their app. They hope to start with Westfield Washington Schools.
“We are talking to the Westfield school board because we want to sell it here first and use Wesfield as a prototype to make sure it works well and students like it,” Lloyd said. “Once we get it working in Westfield, we want to make it active in all of Hamilton County and then move on from there.”
Jiminez and Lloyd also met with 2021 WHS graduate Zach Watson, who developed the SchoolCore app. SchoolCore helps WHS students with their CORE scheduling. CORE stands for connections, opportunity, remediation and enrichment. Lloyd and Jiminez learned about Watson’s process to help with their process for Tutor Us.
Since Westfield High School student Liam Lloyd and Alexa Jiminez won the regional Innovate WithIN competition, Jiminez, a sophomore, said colleges are already reaching out to her to learn of her plans for further education.
Jiminez is undecided about where to attend college, but she wants to major in psychology. Lloyd, a junior, wants to major in business and economics. He wants to attend Notre Dame University and play soccer for the Irish.