Why I'm Moving Across the Country to Join a new Startup, or, My Move to Tutorspree
Hi everyone! I’m Paul deGrandis, the latest addition to Tutorspree. I thought a good way for me to start building a presence in the community would be to share with you where I came from, why I’m excited to join Tutorspree as a software engineer, and what I have planned moving forward. I’m not going to make any promises, but I’m willing to bet this tale will be at least as captivating as Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in a runaway love roller coaster. Hearts will swoon and eyes will light up with excitement, I’m just sayin’.
How did I get here?
Tutorspree isn’t my first startup or even my first marketplace. When I was fifteen, I worked for a small startup called SilverCloud Software (later Retrieve). I worked to build out a Java-based knowledgebase system that automated the most common customer-service requests for companies. This was in the heyday of search innovations and this rich experience taught me two very important lessons about myself:
- I LOVE working in startups
- I enjoy crunching through data. There are great possibilities when you can bend and visualize data to empower your users.
I left SilverCloud Software and made my way to Drexel University to major in Software Engineering, all the while still prototyping apps for potential startups on the side. I began working in research labs at Drexel full time, feverishly publishing research papers. I was excited by the ability to push technology to the limits. There’s an exhilarating feeling unlike anything else when you know you just discovered something completely new and your eyes were the very first to ever see it. This cemented a personal life lesson: Always continue to push yourself to learn more and never stop asking questions.
While still at school I moved up to New York City and began working for Etsy. Working at Esty was SO much fun and the employees were all brilliant, vibrant people. Everyone was passionate about their work. The company culture was absolutely amazing, focused equally on working hard and playing hard. It was the first time I experienced a startup go through rapid growth in both users and employees and the first time I worked for a company that really felt like a family. I learned a lot here, but most importantly:
- Do what your passionate about.
- A really great product is built on a really great vision and solid execution. Really great engineering execution comes from really great software engineering practices.
I left Etsy to start my own company, OurShelf, a social cataloging site. The idea was simple: capture all the items someone owns and all the people they know, and then use that to empower the user with better recommendations, more meaningful trusted reviews, and total item management. This was my first time as both CEO - where I worked heavily on the business side - and engineer where I was still filling out the technical vision and execution. OurShelf was really the culmination of all my thoughts about using data mining to produce a great user experience and product. More than anything I learned: It takes a lot to make a business successful.
For the last year, I’ve been living in Oregon and working for PushButton Labs. At PushButton, I was building out cutting edge game technology to fuel the next generation of social games. It was fun because I was able to learn a new problem domain (the game industry) and it felt as if I was working in a commercial research and development lab.
I left PBL to join Tutorspree.
Why did I make the jump to Tutorspree?
I’m passionate about helping people, knowledge transfer, learning, education, and building really great communities and products. The founders of Tutorspree all have a great sense of vision across the entire business. Their record of solid execution speaks for itself, and they’re all stellar, stand-up guys.
They’ve done an amazing job getting to where they are today and I feel like I can really help them grow the community and the product to exciting, new levels. We all share a very similar outlook on how to best push companies forward, we all love metrics and data, and we’re all passionate about fixing education. The team, the individuals, the product, and the community really embody all of the core lessons and beliefs that I’ve acquired on my journey to where I am today.
In a brief sentence: Tutorspree is the perfect opportunity for me, and I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and do something great.
Moving forward I have a series of customer, community, and internal goals I’d like to achieve, some of which you’ve already seen start to happen.
I believe our tutors should be able to:
- Easily brand and market themselves. Tutors should be able to pull their clientele in from any outside source they want to. They should be able to easily advertise, promote, and brand themselves. Tutorspree should provide the tools to enable our tutors to be better and more effective tutors.
- Easily get support, materials, and guidance from our growing community as well as the Tutorspree team.
- Feel like Tutorspree enables and empowers them to teach others in way that is unique and special to Tutorspree
I believe those seeking to be taught should be able to immediately find the best tutor for their learning style, with the learning materials that will work best for them. I believe they should feel the warmth of our community, while still feeling they’re getting a unique experience.
I want all of our users to help shape the product and have a direct hand in making Tutorspree the best possible product for them.
Internally, I want to bring Tutorspree’s engineering process to the next level. I want metrics the whole team can understand, that will clearly show our engineering and business efforts are driving real, measurable value to our customers. I want to revamp Tutorspree’s architecture and infrastructure to support rapid innovation and stupid-easy scaling. I want every member of the team to have a hand in the engineering process.
I can’t thank the team enough for bringing me on board and the community for welcoming me.
Keep on learning, keep on teaching, keep on asking questions.
… and yes I’ll be tutoring programming languages and general software engineering. Think you might want a lesson? Check out my private tutor profile (on Tutorspree) or my personal blog to see if there’s something I can teach you!