Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.“I’m a work that is perpetually in progress. I believe there is both a need and an opportunity to improve.”—Robert Meekins ’06
Robert Meekins is known for starting things. At Adelphi he was a catalyst for change, serving as president of the Student Government Association, founding the fraternity Kappa Sigma, and helping grow the student organization, Amnesty International. “What I really loved about Adelphi was that it gave me the space in which to cultivate that drive to be industrious, to be inventive, to be innovative,” he said. “I really felt like the opportunity was special.”
The summer after he graduated from Adelphi’s Honors College, he established his own tutoring company with close friend, John Danks. At the time Mr. Danks was in medical school, tutoring students in New York City and Westchester. He was making a good amount of money—and the friends saw the potential to capitalize on this opportunity. Mr. Danks had the idea to start their own tutoring company, and Mr. Meekins helped establish the structure for the business.
The tutoring company started small. “We were putting together a rudimentary website and some advertisements on Craigslist, and it grew from there,” said Mr. Meekins. When they first began, the company was geared toward tutoring high school students for tests like the SAT and AP exams; however, “there were lots of well-established companies that had cornered a lot of the private schools in Manhattan so it was tougher to make inroads at those locations,” he explained.
By 2008, they found their niche: tutoring students enrolled or interested in medical school. “Our company, Med School Tutors, is a tutoring and advisement organization that can essentially help a student at any point on the way to a medical career,” he said. Med School Tutors works with people who know they want to be doctors as young as high school, or students who want to get into accelerated medical programs which start at the beginning of college. Most of their clients are individuals who are coming to the end of their college years and preparing for medical school, the MCAT, and medical school admission.
“We feel our future lies in United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). We started gearing our company towards that four years ago,” he said. “And that’s where our focus really is.”
What makes Med School Tutors unique is that the company approaches everything they do in a highly personalized and customized way. “This personal experience exists elsewhere, for the MCAT, for example. But it doesn’t exist anywhere for the USMLE, which is what really makes us different,” he said. “Our business is premised on providing a premium service at a premium price for a smaller number of clients than a Kaplan or a Princeton Review, where they are catering to large classes.”
In addition to his many other responsibilities as the company’s executive director and partner, Mr. Meekins is also “the matchmaker.” He explains: “We don’t just provide a list of tutors for students to choose from. When students come to us we very specifically only provide students with a single tutor recommendation. All of our tutors are similar in that they have fantastic qualifications, but as individuals, I could almost label each tutor with certain adjectives that are unique to them. Then I think about which of those adjectives is most important to a particular student. Is it organization? Is it the quality of being somewhat more laid back, but still effective? Which tutors present specific kinds of advantages and which advantages are most important to any given student?”
This personal approach is serving Mr. Meekins’ company well. In 2009 they had the largest number of clients in their company’s history. “From that point forward we have grown [at least year over year] every month for the last three years,” he said. In summer 2012, he projects the most students ever; in the range of 100.
While Mr. Meekins looks to continue to grow the company, he doesn’t envision it ever becoming too big: “We always want something of the small business culture because we are always going to be catering to people on a personal level,” he said. “We can grow in terms of the scope of where we offer our services.”
To this end, Med School Tutors started offering tutoring via Skype and other internet means about a year and a half ago. Today, that constitutes 20 to 30 percent of their business. “If Med School Tutors continues to grow at the speed at which it has been growing, then within five to 10 years I could imagine myself overseeing a company that is nationwide, if not global in a sense, because of the internet…with multiple locations across the country.”