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Billionaire start-up owner wants to give kids everywhere free education

Billionaire start-up owner wants to give kids everywhere free education

The learning platform offers an alternative to struggling families

One billionaire start-up owner has an ambitious idea to help educate millions of children - even those whose parents can't afford extra tutoring.

Phil Cutler is the CEO and founder of Paper, a Canadian virtual learning platform that aims to make private tutor as affordable as possible.

First launched in 2014, Paper is now estimated to be worth $1.5 billion, thanks to investments from huge companies like Google and SoftBank.

Phil Cutler started Paper after seeing that some kids would benefit from affordable tutoring.

In an interview with CNBC, Cutler said: "I was never thinking of building a huge business.

"My idea was, let’s solve this problem for the students at the school that I was affiliated with [and] try to level the playing field for all of them."

Paper is used in more than 400 school districts across North America, with 3,000 tutors offering personalized lessons to children of all ages and income brackets.

The service is available at all hours of the day, with no costs to families who are struggling financially - Paper is paid for by school districts.

The app helps kids all over North America access affordable tutoring.
charnchai saeheng / Alamy Stock Photo

Cutler came up with the idea for Paper whilst he was still a student himself, studying elementary education at McGill University.

While teaching students in Montreal schools, Cutler realized that wealthier students were performing better academically.

Cutler said: "I started to recognize while I was in the classroom that it was the other 80% to 90% of students that really needed extra support.

"They were the ones who couldn’t afford the $50 an hour, and could really benefit the most from getting that extra help."

Paper is available for school districts across North America.
khwanchai phanthong / Alamy Stock Photo

Upon graduating, Cutler and his friend Roberto Cipriani went about setting up Paper, in which they were aided by $1.6 million in funding from Real Ventures’ FounderFuel startup incubator.

Paper found its first school partnership in 2018, when they set up shop in South California's Laguna Beach Unified School District.

When schools switched to virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic, Paper was well positioned to help students learning from home.

Cutler notes that the platform has seen a notable growth in school districts where up to 98 percent of students are receiving free or reduced price school meals.

Although Paper has already made strides in the education landscape, Cutler has bigger ambitions for the platform in the future.

Cutler ultimately wants to see Paper partner up with every school district in the North American continent - no small feat as there are 18,000 in the US alone.

The platform costs schools approximately $40 per student.

Featured Image Credit: LinkedIn / Pixabay

Topics: Education, Google