After graduating from a master’s at the University of Cambridge in 2017, Chrissybil Boulin secured every development economics graduate’s dream job: working at the Paris headquarters of the OECD. However, after undertaking an internship at the prestigious international organization, Boulin turned down an offer for full-time employment.
“Everyone was stunned that I did that,” recalled Boulin. “My boss told me that it was the worst decision I could have made and that I would regret it.” Her friends were equally flabbergasted.
What would Boulin do instead, they wondered? Move to South Florida and become a tutor. “They thought I was nuts,” Boulin, a Haitian-American, told Refresh Miami. “Turns out it was a good decision.”
Tutoring came naturally to Boulin. She always excelled in the classroom, and from as early as sixth grade was drafted by the adults in her life to help her classmates that were lagging behind.
Boulin’s tutoring business quickly gained momentum, with more students asking for Boulin’s services than she could fit into her schedule. After regularly making intros to other tutors, Boulin decided to start her own company, Jump Start Tutoring.
“It was a leap of faith,” Boulin said. “I thought that if it didn’t work out, I would go to Europe and work for an international organization and find my way. But it did work out.”
Since founding Fort Lauderdale-based Jump Start in 2018, Boulin and team [pictured above] have worked with over 2,500 students and partnered with 25 local schools, libraries, and NGOs. The company works with students in grades K through 12.
The pandemic marked a major inflection point for Jump Start. Boulin’s primary sales strategies – offering free talks to parents and passing out flyers at schools– were no longer feasible because of restrictions to in-person activities. It was time for a pivot.
“We went from a one-page website to what we have today, and from 66 followers on Instagram to a few thousand,” she said. “Ultimately, I think that pandemic was really what helped us to start thinking more critically about the future of learning. And that’s where we started to really think about how we can incorporate technology in meaningful ways.”
And so Jump Start grows in another direction. Boulin, alongside a team that includes a Cambridge colleague who is an AI expert, is in the process of developing an EdTech platform. The main goal: to democratize access to high-quality tutoring, especially when it comes to standardized test prep.
“Some families are paying upwards of $10,000 for test prep,” Boulin explained. “The best tutors cost hundreds of dollars.” However, Boulin asserted that three months of access to Jump Start’s platform will cost just $250 for similar results. “We want our students to have a chance at competing.”
The new platform will have some unique features, including a questionnaire to determine what the student’s goals are and tailor lessons to fit their needs.
The Jump Start team has recently finished a demo and expects to start onboarding students by June. The startup has already garnered the interest of some investors, including Chisos Capital, Spanx, Office Depot, and Facebook. Boulin hopes to raise $1.3 million of pre-seed funds to enable the development of the platform.
Boulin noted the challenges of VC fundraising as a minority female founder. “You’re just not what people are expecting, and there’s more of a caution towards you,” she said. “If a male founder is pitching, they have the opportunity to talk more about their future plans without having to prove that they’re a safe bet.” However, Boulin said that she has noticed a positive trend of more females in the VC world.
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