Getting accepted into the world’s most prestigious colleges is more competitive than ever. The most selective schools in the US saw a 17% increase in applications in 2021, according to the Common App. Wealthy Americans spend upwards of $10,000 on college prep for their children – a figure far out of reach for the vast majority.
A Palm Beach-based startup is flipping the script on college prep. The Classroom Door has developed a digital platform to make college counseling significantly more accessible, starting at $15 an hour.
Giving back is core to The Classroom Door’s mission. For every 100 hours of tutoring booked through the platform, their scholarship program will provide a free hour of tutoring to an underserved student.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping students excel and get into college,” Nikki Geula, The Classroom Door’s founder and CEO, told Refresh Miami.
Before founding The Classroom Door last year, Geula spent over two decades building a consultancy business to support students through their admissions processes. Her business quickly gained traction, becoming a top choice for the children of Fortune 500 CEOs, celebrities, and professors.
“I created the classroom door to both democratize the space to provide extraordinary quality, tutoring and college counseling to students all over the world at prices that they could afford,” asserted Geula.
One particularly poignant moment that made Geula reassess her business model and mission happened when she was in a celebrity’s house, tutoring one of their children. One of the house’s caretakers came up to Geula in tears asking for help with her son’s college process.
Geula took on the case pro bono and ended up helping the caretaker’s son land a full scholarship to Boston University. Years later, that same caretaker knocked on Geula’s door once again, this timea skiing for help getting to college herself. With Geula’s help, the caretaker gained admission to an Ivy League college.
“That was an extraordinary moment for me,” said Geula. “It was a realization that people want access to an excellent education, but they don’t always know how to get it. And it’s often prohibitive for them.”
At The Classroom Door, Geula notes, students who are billionaires’ children and students who apply for full financial aid are both getting the same tutors and the same access to quality education.
Sessions on The Classroom Door are live and one-on-one. Students can use the search function to match with the tutors who have expertise in their most vexing subjects. Users can also take advantage of a rapid booking feature, which lets students gain access to a tutor on short notice.
For Geula, a main differentiator of The Classroom Door is its user interface. “My goal was to make online tutoring feel as though you’re in the room with your tutor,” she said, explaining that her platform’s whiteboard functionality enables students and tutors to write together in real time.
Geula spends part of her time in Palm Beach and part in New York. She is excited about the recent boom in South Florida tech: “It’s great to be part of something in Florida that is so innovative and expansive.” The Classroom Door has 2,000 tutors on its platform and a core team of 12 full-time employees. So far, the startup has been bootstrapped, but Geula signaled that a funding round could happen in the near future.
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