EAST GREENWICH—Presented with the prospect of a first year of college marked by quarantines, social isolation and distance learning, three EGHS grads chose a different option: Start a business.
Class of 2020 alumni Owen Hirshorn, Suraj “Sunny” Sait and Matthew Tactacan opted to take a gap year between high school and college to ensure their college experience would be all that it could be and to hone their skills at business by starting a tutoring company. That company, POG Tutoring, is now open for business and has already taken on more than a dozen clients in its first three weeks. For the three young entrepreneurs, the challenge (and reward) of running a business took precedent over the dreary idea of paying for online college courses.
“The main driving factor [for starting POG] was that we didn’t want to do an online version of school,” Tactacan said. “Doing online school is not the same experience. You don’t make the same connections. I thought I could do more with this year than just sitting at home and doing schoolwork.”
“We did distance learning in March and, after three months of that, I realized that was what college would be like,” Hirshorn said. “I didn’t want to go to campus and take classes form my dorm. It’s not the same as it would be. So I figured it would be in my best interest to wait it out a year.”
“I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial,” Sait said. “We’re so excited to see where it goes.”
Putting college on hold for a year was no light decision for the trio, as they all have seats waiting at prestigious universities. Hirshorn will be attending Boston College, Sait will be attending the University of Pennsylvania and Tactacan will be attending the University of New South Wales in Australia. Indeed, a leap into the academy was in many ways a foregone conclusion for the three, all of whom are National Honor Society members who have won awards at the regional, national and local levels and all of whom were wholly engaged with extracurriculars.
All three also have tutoring experience, however, and their understanding of the current curricula being used across the state meant that they were ready leap into their first venture from day one.
“It was really fresh in our minds” Hirshorn said. “We wouldn’t start this company if we were unqualified. Between the three of us combined, we’ve taken basically every high school course”
The three also believe that their understanding of the youth market in EG will help to propel them to success, and POG Tutoring is geared to be accessible everywhere from its open scheduling format right down to its name.
“Students choose how long they want to go for,” Sait said. “We don’t have a minimum hours requirement because if students stay and they don’t have enough work or focus to fill that time then they won’t get the most out of the tutoring experience”
“You give students the power,” Sait added. “You empower them to manage their own schedule.”
“The way that we tutor our clients is a lot more personal and human than other places,” Tactacan said. “We’ve found that a lot of the time at tutoring centers it’s a very informal process or the tutors recognize kids but don’t get to know them. It feels more factory like rather than a human-centric approach.”
“We’re humans and we’re not just a tutoring center. You get your money’s worth,” Tactacan added.
“We’ve made ourselves available around the clock,” Hirshorn said. “At any time, there’s almost a guarantee that one of us will be available.”
Hirshorn also expressed that it was important to offer potential clients the ability to learn about the service before committing their money to it.
“We’ve also been making the first 30 minutes free so they can get to know us without paying for an introductory session,” Hirshorn said.
As to the meaning of the name, well, that might depend on who you ask.
“It’s an acronym for ‘Passionate, Organized and Genuine’,” Sait said. “We felt like those three qualities were really what we should focus on.”
Incidentally, local youth would better know the term as slang for something cool, a fact not lost on the three young entrepreneurs.
“POG is expression that means excitement,” Tactacan said. “It helps us connect a lot with younger clients. The acronym is the parental face.”
For now, the trio is moving full speed ahead, collecting valuable clients and invaluable experience as they await the opportunity to attend college on their own terms. In that time, they hope that they will provide a boon to the community by offering assistance to local students who are having trouble with distance learning or academics in general.
“Since EGHS students generally have multiple commitments ranging from academics to sports to extracurricular activities, our model of on-demand tutoring gives them the flexibility to easily manage their schedules,” Sait said. “We believe that this student-centric approach could greatly benefit the students of East Greenwich High School during this period of distance learning, as it is something the three of us wished we had when going through our own bout of distance learning at the start of this year.”
POG Tutoring is available for in-person or distance tutoring and can be found online at pogtutoring.weebly.com.