Meet Eliza Morrison and M4 Andrew Nimmich, the CEOs of Tutor the People and Nerdly.
Both of today’s guests attended the College of Charleston in South Carolina where Eliza Morrison majored in French, Russian and Comparative Literature. Andrew Nimmich also attended the College of Charleston and CUNY Brooklyn College and majored in Pre-Medical Studies. He is currently an M4 at BU’s School of Medicine. They are both the co-founders and CEOs of Tutor the People (founded in 2012) and nerdly (founded in 2016).
Can you tell us a little about yourself? [1:33]
Eliza: I grew up in Charleston. I was always passionate about language and literature.
I started out at a small liberal arts school, Goucher College (in Baltimore) for one year, then transferred to the College of Charleston where I studied French and literature. I decided to add Russian since I’d studied French my whole life.
I also tutored French and Russian, which set the stage to pursue tutoring and education.
Andrew: I grew up in Charleston as well – we actually knew each other in high school. I started out at the University of Miami in Florida, then decided to transfer back home to the College of Charleston. I studied accounting. I’d considered medicine but I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do.
After graduating with a degree in accounting, I moved to New York City where I worked as a billing clerk in a legal office. I decided I wanted to go back to Charleston and study premed prereqs – that’s when Eliza and I started dating. We later went back to NY, where I took advanced science classes at CUNY while applying to med school. And I ended up at BU.
What’s the backstory to Tutor the People and Nerdly? [5:20]
Eliza: We moved to New York – I’d graduated and he’d just finished his postbac. He had experience studying for the MCAT and I had experience tutoring. We were both a little frustrated by the job opportunities. So we combined our experiences and started Tutor the People.
At the time we were living in Chinatown over a fish market – we were really inspired by our surroundings every day.
Andrew: I’d taken the MCAT and I’d done some of the more corporate courses, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the experience I’d had – it wasn’t individualized and felt very corporate. Our idea was to have really smart tutors and make it one-on-one that was comparable to the price of classroom. We also had this idea that for every hour that a student bought we did an hour of volunteer work – tutoring homework for kids with incarcerated parents. (As we’ve started to scale up that’s been hard to scale.)
What’s the difference between TTP and Nerdly? [10:10]
With TTP, there’s more administration – we do general academic advising, personal statement help, application guidance; we work with a lot of premed applicants.
Nerdly is a marketplace where students can connect directly with tutors.
There are a lot of tutoring platforms. What differentiates Nerdly? [11:25]
Andrew: You’re right, it’s a crowded market. What I like about Nerdly is that we put a lot of emphasis on user experience.
Our tagline is you can find and meet with a credible tutor in less than a minute. You can scan through 15 tutors in less than a minute and see the subjects they’re verified it – then go to an instant session in less than a minute.
I think once we roll out the final version in the next few months you’ll see it’s easy to use.
Starting a tutoring platform is a long way from tutoring on the side as a college student – how did that evolve? [14:05]
Eliza: It’s very much a collaborative effort – I’m constantly learning. I’ve been lucky to meet some talented people.
I’ve considered going back to earn an MBA or a MS in computer science.
Andrew, how did you decide to pursue medicine? [16:00]
Medicine is the face of my life. It influences everything I do. Even how we run our business – I’m influenced by how hospital teams are run.
I like solving problems. In medicine, you’re solving complex problems and making someone better. For me, business is interesting, but medicine is what grounds me.
There are aspects of business you can apply to medicine and aspects of medicine you can apply to business. Medicine makes me more efficient in business.
Looking back to when you applied to med school, what was the hardest part of the application process? [20:09]
I was having a talk with one of our students the other day about his personal statement – he had great experiences but was having trouble deciding what to write about. I told him, you have an amazing story here! I think when you’re applying it can be hard to know what’s the best part of you to put forward to a committee – or to have the confidence to do it.
I think the most challenging part of being a premed is knowing how much of yourself to bring into medicine.
Looking back at your med school interviews, what was the most memorable interview question you were asked? [24:36]
There weren’t really any specific questions that stood out. The ethics questions are always interesting. And there’s always the “tell me about yourself” question.
One of my interviews was with a faculty member who was originally from Italy, and we just talked about his experience in Europe and my recent travels.
What do you like best about BU? [25:47]
BU does a great job preparing its students to be really good clinicians. You have great residents and attendings – really dedicated to teaching and mentorship. I just met with one of my mentors today.
They challenge you but give you the support you need to rise to the challenge.
What would you like to see changed? [27:00]
That’s a good question. I do really like the school! I’d have to think about it.
The only thing I’d change – and I think they’re working on it – is getting earlier clinical exposure. And I think that’s where med school is headed.
How do you see yourself balancing medicine and your business ventures? [30:00]
I’m applying to residency now – in surgery, which requires a lot of time.
So I’m taking a step back. At the beginning Eliza and I did a lot of the work ourselves before we hired a staff. As I’ve gone through med school I’ve scaled it back, though I’m still involved.
Eliza, what’s in your crystal ball for Nerdly and TTP? [31:47]
A lot of things! We’re constantly looking for ways to customize our approach to tutoring and student learning. As we go we’ll learn more about how we can integrate new technologies.
Any last wisdom for premeds, entrepreneurs, med students? [33:40]
Eliza: Don’t give up – it’s a long road. When you’re building something it doesn’t happen overnight. Build a strong team where everyone can contribute.
Andrew: I think the not giving up thing is really important in business and medicine. Medicine is a tracked road where you know the number of years. Business is more open. You just have to stay the course and keep a positive attitude.
With medicine or entrepreneurship, never go it alone. Rely on the brilliant people you work with.
It only stops when you quit.
How do you keep balance? [36:40]
Eliza: Make sure to maintain the things in life that make you happy. I’ve gotten myself on a regular exercise routine. It’s important to eat healthy, sleep properly.
Since we live in Boston we try to go to the mountains in New Hampshire, the coast in Maine – get out in nature.
Andrew: I’m a big believer in having something you do for fun.
Also, I really love what I do!
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