Competition after incredible success at the local competition. On Saturday, he will pitch his plan for FACEtutor to a worldwide audience, with viewers having the opportunity to vote for their top choice.
According to the official Instagram page, FACEtutor is an “on-demand video tutoring service, that allows students to get help for qualified tutors whenever they need it.” Thomas says the mobile application is similar to Uber in that a student can access a tutor whenever they need assistance and tutors can log on whenever they are available to help. The inspiration for FACEtutor arose from Thomas’ own experience as an Episcopal tutor.
At Episcopal, Thomas provides support for his classmates in math, science, social studies, English and Spanish. He is passionate about helping others, and tutoring offers him a rewarding way to do that. His face lights up as he describes the excitement he sees in others when they first understand a new concept or finally find the answer to a hard to solve problem. He hopes FACEtutor will make it possible for more of those “a-ha” moments with a broader range of students. Counselor Robin Talamo says Thomas’ willingness to help others has made him a “go to” student for campus tutoring. “He really puts himself out there with students, giving of his free time, and truly becoming invested in their success,” she says. “He has a level of professionalism that is far beyond that of his age. Yet, as amazing as he is with his gifts, he is also equally humble about his accomplishments.”
Thomas has already accomplished a lot in a very short period of time with FACEtutor, earning the top prize from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge this spring. Participating in the program allowed Thomas the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship and the skills needed to make FACEtutor a reality. The experience was inspiring. “I loved the YEA,” says Thomas. “It helped me learn all aspects of business. It was specialized to what I need and very useful.” As Thomas learned more about entrepreneurship, he explored existing online tutoring options and found that FACEtutor’s objective of providing easy, 24/7 access in a video chat format is unique. Through YEABR, Thomas continued to fine-tune his concept, learning more about business plan development, logo design and how to create a solid pitch. As the winner of the local competition, he received $5,000 to support his endeavor and the chance to compete on a national stage.
The events of 2020 have certainly underscored the importance of the accessible tutoring that FACEtutor seeks to provide. Thomas points to the number of schools in which students are not on campus and are only learning online. He says there is a “need for more personalized help” when in-person learning is not taking place. What was initially created to support students with real-time learning needs has now become a timely idea that meets the needs of students experiencing learning in new and unusual circumstances.
On Saturday, October 17th, Thomas will pitch FACEtutor to a worldwide audience as he competes against 36 middle and high school students from 20 states across the country. He will be part of Panel 2, whose members will present their business models between 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm. Viewers must register in advance here to participate in the text-to-vote People’s Choice Award selection. The competition will be streamed live on YEA’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
Earning the title of next top young entrepreneur would be a tremendous boost for FACEtutor and Thomas. “It would mean more money to help me start the business,” he says. It would also provide Thomas the national recognition he needs to fully develop and launch the app. While Thomas is not yet sure of his ultimate career goals, he does hope that FACEtutor CEO is in his future. This weekend will be a huge step toward making that happen.
To read about previous Episcopal students who participated in YEABR, click here.
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