text apps, tutoring app, on demand tutor, tutor on demand, tutor help, tutor app, tutoring, tutors A young woman sits on her bed, listening to headphones and studying on her computer. A young woman sits on her bed, listening to headphones and studying on her computer. A young woman sits on her bed, listening to headphones and studying on her computer. A young woman sits on her bed, listening to headphones and studying on her computer.
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Kids need homework help? New service provides text-based tutoring.

During Ivy Ng's sophomore year, the chemistry class started fine.

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Then, during the second semester, the Westminster, California, 16-year-old realized she was struggling with some of the homework assignments, and needed help. Ng tried a few tutors, but they were expensive, or simply not a match. What Ng needed was someone she could call the moment she got stuck on a problem, and help get her through it.

"After a few internet searches, I found Yup," Ng recalls. "I worked with their tutors, and my test scores went up to a B."

Yup is a text-based tutoring service that was started in 2014, when Naguib S. Sawiris realized there was a need for on-demand, digital tutoring. At the time, he was on a leave of absence from Stanford, and working on a startup to help families buy groceries. Sawiris and his friends were always fielding text messages from younger siblings and cousins who needed help with homework. So, Sawiris decided to focus his efforts on Yup, the educational app that offers on-demand help in math, science and physics. The timing was good: Americans increasingly accept online education. And Yup is on the front lines of companies moving into the digital tutoring space.

"Yup can exist because of how technology has evolved," Sawiris says, adding: "Five years ago, not every 13-year-old had a smartphone, but now they do."

Here's how it works: When a student realizes he needs help with a math or science problem, he can log into the Yup app and connect with a tutor in real time. The tutor walks the student through the homework, and teaches them how to get the answer. Students can take photos of the problems and send them over the app as well. There's also a history feature, so all your sessions are saved, for reference. Tutors are available for kids as young as grade school, up through college-level courses.

The key there is help. Sawiris says that what sets Yup apart from its competitors is that the service is designed to teach students how to get to the answer, not just hand it to them. The tutors ask a lot of questions throughout the sessions, making sure that students understand each step. After a tutor finishes a session, it's peer reviewed by other Yup tutors so that they can fine-tune their technique.

For Robert Hewson, a parent of two children ages 10 and 13 in Clinton Township, Michigan, who have used Yup for the past seven months, making sure his kids understand the concepts is really important.

"I tried other tutoring apps and they would just give the kid the answer," Hewson says. He had also hired tutors to come to his home, but it was expensive. It was also hard for him to tell how much time was spent learning and how much was just chatting.

"Now, I can give my daughter my phone and she can spend anywhere between five minutes to 20 minutes getting the help she needs," he says. "And I've never waited more than 30 seconds for a tutor through the app."

The tutoring industry is ripe for disruption. In the past, if a student needed help with a subject he had to wait for the tutor to come to their house, at a specific time, which is not always when issues arise. And, again, there's the cost factor. A typical tutor can range anywhere from $25 to $100 an hour, and they are usually paid in cash, or through an agency, which takes a percentage.

But with an on-demand tutor, like Yup, students only use the time that they need, and they use it when they need it. The cost is also significantly less. Yup charges $18 an hour a la carte or $89 for unlimited, monthly access.

For Ng, the tutors help with more than just problems with homework. They have also helped her feel more comfortable with the subjects she needed help with.

"Naturally, I'm a person who likes getting help," she says, "I'll spend an hour with a tutor and truly understand it better."

Sawiris says he gets about 500 applications a month from people who want to be tutors, all coming from word of mouth. Many of them want to work part-time or are looking to work from home. "Above all, they all have a true passion for the subject they teach," he says.

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