This week, the experts at the D.C. chapter of the business mentoring nonprofit SCORE offer advice to a tutoring firm preparing to enter new markets. – Dan Beyers

The Entrepreneur

When Farooq Cheema was growing up his parents were big on education. They engaged a tutor who helped him excel in the subjects he was already good at and bolstered areas where he needed improvement. The positive results were demonstrated in his college application test scores.

“I did not thank my parents at the time, but sure do now,” Cheema said.“What made the learning so effective was the tutor’s ability to understand how I learned and then adapting the study program to match.”

When Cheema was ready to start a company, he formed one based on his experience, calling it Study Sparkz, an in-home, one-on-one tutoring business, focusing on students in grades K-12 in the District, Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs.

The challenge

Cheema, founder and chief executive of Study Sparkz, located in Vienna, Va.

“We have served thousand customers in the past several years and now is time to expand. The biggest challenge is to maintain our small office culture as we grow.

“Our clients are pleased with our proprietary system of matching tutors and students, its our ‘secret sauce,’ and our key differentiator with competitors. It is based on a proprietary algorithm and supported with four business process patents. We have the systems developed and fine-tuned. How do we engage additional staff in additional markets and keep the culture that has made us successful? Our customers stay with us three times longer than industry averages and we need to maintain this excellent customer-company relationship.”

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