Christopher Parham-Darabi of LogonTutor

Christopher Parham-Darabi helped found LogonTutor, an online database that connects tutors for any number of academic subjects with students in need of their expertise. 

How did you come up with the idea for your business?
The LogonTutor story starts with a kid who always wanted to own his own business. Since I was a child, I’ve always spent time researching businesses and selling some type of product.

Upon graduation, I worked at a family consulting company, which granted me the space and availability to pursue my dream. I started becoming more and more interested in starting my own tutoring business. While I was in college, I needed tutoring help at various times, but found it hard to find good tutors.

Many times, the tutoring center would be over-packed, understaffed and lacked the one-on-one tutoring help I was in need of. I saw a need for students to find tutors with the right skills and talents to help them further their academic goals; skills that were based on experience and not just whoever was available at the tutoring center.

While I was putting all this together, I met a friend who works as a tutor in the statistics field; he enlisted my help in spreading the word about his tutoring skills and talents. This brought about a confirmation for me to move on with this business even though I felt very discouraged.

According to my notes, the very next day a friend by the name of Sam called me, requesting a tutor for Microsoft Excel. This let me know there is a market need, whether it’s assistance with statistics, Microsoft Excel or any other subject, I learned that everyone needs a helping hand from time to time.

What local resources did you utilize to get started?
I worked with Mary Mayer of the Hamilton County Development Company, and she recommended me to the Urban League Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Upon going, I met Mr. Riggs, a business advisor at the SBDC. Mr. Riggs was a tremendous help with coaching and told me about the Ohio Third Frontier grant program that allowed me to setvup an internship program. The grant gives companies the opportunity to recruit colleges and university interns at half the price, and up to $6,000.

Mr. Riggs also told me to apply to the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic. Working with the University of Cincinnati College of Law has helped me tremendously lower my legal cost. I want to give a special thanks to Mr. Goldfarb for his assistance. 

Christian Dennery and Joe Oaks, James Niekamp and Yinan Zhany all help with LogonTutor, LLC's legal documentation. The work done by the ECDC was outstanding. 

Another great resource for buying low-priced used computers and furniture is the University of Cincinnati Surplus Equipment Department. 

What has been your biggest obstacle in setting up your business?
My biggest obstacle in setting up this business has been the development of the service. I did not have the programming experience needed to develop this webvservice. To overcome this problem, Vinson Butler was recruited to be web developer and now technology co-founder. 

How is Cincinnati a unique city for entrepreneurs? 
Cincinnati is a unique city for entrepreneurs because it's surrounded by many universities and colleges with great, talented people. This creates the perfect hub for recruiting the talent needed for building a great business. Another great benefit is the low cost for living, which helps the bootstrapping entrepreneur. 

What's next for LogonTutor?
What's next for LogonTutor is making online tutoring, improving user experience and generating sales.

Interview by Sean Peters