College sophomore takes The Massapequa Tutor into its fourth year
For Dan Hepworth, founder of The Massapequa Tutor, helping out a friend of his family who was struggling with geometry four years ago has turned into a full-fledged tutoring company that just hired its 27th employee and is currently working with between 230 to 250 clients. Currently a 19-year-old sophomore at Duke University, Hepworth was initially reluctant to help out that wayward mathematics student.
“The Massapequa Tutor started out very matter-of-factly. In 2016, I was a junior in high school. I came home and got a call from a family friend. They called my mom saying they knew I was a good student and wanted to know if I could help them with geometry,” he recalled. “Initially I was very hesitant given that I’m a pretty shy and hesitant person. But I decided to give it a shot, having done some tutoring before. It’s probably the best decision I ever made. It was a win-win-win. I enjoy the work, the student’s geometry grades improved and the parents enjoyed working with me. It was compatible with my schedule, so at that point, I sort of figured that I could do this on a greater scale. Then they referred me to other people. I decided to formalize my efforts by creating a Facebook page and an Instagram page. Then it sort of grew organically that way.”
The Massapequa Park native spent a good portion of his senior year in the library at Chaminade High School for nine-hour clips working with his budding clientele, forgoing lunch and dinner and subsisting on granola bars in between teaching sessions. That was soon to change, once he knew he was heading off to start his higher education journey at Duke University.
“It sort of came together organically. It started out in 2016 with just me. By fall 2018, I was at Duke University and it was a bit of an experiment to see if this could sustain itself because my clients are my priority and I wanted to make sure they weren’t left hanging when I was at college because a lot of them wanted someone in person. That’s when I started to recruit people that were younger than me and still on the Island. It turned out to be a success and that year we grew a lot,” he said. “While my freshman year was a real growth phase, I’d say a lot of the hard-core business development happened over the past year. While I was at Duke in March, I took it a lot more seriously. At that point, we invested in a website and added our custom scheduler, where you can book online. I brought on a team to help me out and started recruiting hard and realized that this could last and have a permanent presence. I’d say there was about a year of really hard work devoted towards building the brand and building the organization.”
The Massapequa Tutor’s clientele goes as far east as Smithtown, west into Queens and Nassau County’s North and South Shore. Core subjects clients can sign up to get help with include biology, chemistry, English, geography, math, foreign languages, physics, U.S. and world history. The first hour of every tutoring session is entirely free to see if instructor and student are a good fit. From here, prices are segmented three-fold. Specific subjects that include studying for a test of tackling difficult classwork is $45 an hour. College consulting that includes working on essays or applications runs $50 an hour. Standardized test prep (ACT, SAT, Catholic High School Entrance Exam [CHSEE]) comes in at $60 an hour. Group classes are also offered that vary in price depending on the content and length of the class. As for the tutors, the age range goes as low as high school juniors (“That’s the cutoff on the lower end because at that point, you’re able to drive”) while on the upper range, tutors don’t get any older than grad students. It’s a conscious decision Hepworth made early on.
“My philosophy and what sets us apart is our use of student tutors in the sense that many people already have retired educators as tutors or are teachers that are working on the side. I think that there’s a very different experience when you’re working with someone close with you in age,” he said.
Among the challenges Hepworth has been grappling with in this endeavor are a consistent need of tutors (“We’re sort of at this point where we exhausted that talent pool”) and balancing a full workload down in North Carolina while running a business from afar.
“The Massapequa Tutor isn’t a flashy tech start-up, so it can sometimes be a bit isolating,” he said. “I have to remind myself why I’m doing this and I try to stay focused and committed toward my clients.”
Majoring in computer science with a minor in business, the former Eagle Scout would ideally like The Massapequa Tutor to become a full-time endeavor once he graduates from Duke in two years.
“I definitely want to have a physical location at some point. I think that’ll be a real testament to success and definitely be a good way to solidify our presence on Long Island,” he said. “I definitely want to expand our presence across Long Island, because it can definitely seem like we’re working in certain hot pockets so to speak—a lot of Chaminade towns like Rockville Centre and Garden City. We want to be able to be the go-to name across Long Island and have that brand recognition and hopefully have the value that backs up that brand name. We want to be experts in our field and hopefully give back as well in the process.”
Visit www.themassapequatutor.com to learn more about The Massapequa Tutor.