Graduate student wins $10,000 in business competition

Posted on Apr 11 2017 - 3:47pm by Alexandra Morris and Carly Owen

Last Friday, graduate accounting student Lee Ingram won $10,000 to expand his business, Collegiate Tutoring, in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship ’s annual Gillespie competition.

The student who presents the most effective business model is awarded money for their start-up company.

Ingram’s business Collegiate Tutoring, formerly called Higher Learning LLC, is a website students can use to find student tutors who have excelled in the courses they need help in.

“I like having a service that helps students find confidence in their courses,” Ingram said about why he started the business. “The other side of that is that I like finding students that are capable of tutoring and rewarding them for knowing the material well.”

Ingram noticed a social stigma around tutoring, and he thought making student tutors discreetly accessible helps people who are struggling feel less embarrassed about seeking help. Some students may be embarrassed about having to publicly ask for a tutor by posting on Facebook group pages, consulting an adviser or seeking help through friends.


Ingram said he also wanted to help students find a tutor as quickly and easily as possible. The company pays the students that excel at their work to tutor other students as well. The starting price for most courses is $40, but more advanced courses cost $50 an hour. The tutors hired by Collegiate Tutoring receive half of the client’s payment.

“It’s kind of like Uber for tutoring,” said Jacob Gambrell student tutor and a member of the honors college. “You set your own hours, decide the subjects you want to tutor and then connect with the students individually. It takes a lot of the unnecessary hassle out of the way.”

Collegiate Tutoring has more than 250 customers, as well as a partnership with two Greek houses on campus. Maria Gorla, former academic executive officer for Ole Miss’ chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said working with Collegiate Tutoring made her job much easier.

“It was clear to see how well the business side of Higher Learning (now Collegiate Tutoring) was run,” Gorla said. “All of our members that attended sessions experienced the top-notch quality (of the tutors) firsthand.”

Six student entrepreneurs competed in front of nine judges in the final round of Gillespie. The second place prize of $5,000 was awarded to Pontus Andersson and Sam Bertolet for their business Myra Mirrors, a new smart mirror that combines interactive technology with an everyday mirror. Manaslu Athletics, a casual activewear company created by Austin Darnell, took third place and $2,500. In addition to winning $10,000, Ingram also received two iPad Pros and a year of free rent at the Ole Miss Innovation Hub.

Ingram had been continually working and adjusting his business plan with management professors Owens Alexander and Clay Dibrell.

“I heard about Lee’s business that he started from scratch,” Alexander said. “So, I met with him and then got him set up with one of our student consulting teams to help him work on scheduling, his website and other procedural things.”

Although Ingram is graduating this spring, Alexander and Dibrell said they both plan ton continue to provide assistance for Ingram because they want him to be successful and he is a great representative of the university.

Ingram’s first-year plan for his company is to expand its service to five campuses, including Ole Miss.

This article was submitted to The Daily Mississippian from an advanced reporting class.