Hoot Reading is the leading online tutoring service providing 1:1, evidence-based literacy instruction with qualified teachers. Incubated on a research project at the Nokia Research Lab with Sesame Workshop (the creators of Sesame Street) and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Hoot Reading partners with school districts across North America to change children’s lives through literacy.
Congratulations on being a Xero Beautiful Business Fund winner! What does this mean for the team, and what drew you to the program?
Being recognized as a Xero Beautiful Business Fund winner is an incredible honor for the Hoot Reading team. This achievement validates our dedication to transforming childhood literacy and provides us with invaluable financial support to propel our mission forward. The Xero Beautiful Business Fund’s focus on empowering small businesses drew us to the program. Particularly the “trailblazing with technology” category, as it resonates with our goals of leveraging innovative solutions, such as AI, machine learning, and speech recognition, for enhancing literacy.
What’s Hoot Reading’s origin story, and how has its mission to change children’s lives through literacy driven it to be the organization it is today?
Hoot Reading’s research-backed approach to remote literacy instruction was incubated on a research project at the Nokia Research Lab with Sesame Workshop (the creators of Sesame Street). Our mission to change children’s lives through literacy has been the driving force behind our growth. Literacy is a cornerstone for future success, and by providing personalized online tutoring, we aim to make a meaningful impact on students’ lives and academic achievements.
Hoot Reading won in the Trailblazing with Technology category – what will this funding enable the team to do?
The funding will be instrumental in advancing our platform capabilities and operations, and we intend to prioritize the enhancement of tracking tools, automation, and strengthened privacy and security measures. We plan to invest in developing technologies that leverage AI, machine learning, and speech recognition to power proprietary scheduling and matching algorithms, as well as an updated digital assessment experience. These technologies will improve the online learning experience for students by allowing them to efficiently match with the best teacher for their individual learning needs. Additionally, the funds will support the expansion of our reach, enabling us to connect with more students and schools.
As an online tutoring service, technology is at the heart of the business. How do you leverage tech services for your business – from operations to customer service offerings – and why are they important?
From a seamless onboarding process to personalized lesson plans and progress tracking, our platform leverages technology to offer a comprehensive and effective learning experience. Our use of advanced analytics helps tailor lessons to each student’s needs, ensuring a personalized and adaptive approach. Our technology enables us to provide real-time feedback and progress reports to districts and parents, fostering a collaborative learning environment. Embracing technology is crucial for delivering high-quality, accessible, and engaging literacy instruction on a large scale.
Hoot Reading has had a lot of success raising funds, what advice would you give to other small business owners looking to do the same?
Securing funds for a small business is undoubtedly a challenging but essential aspect of growth. My advice to fellow small business owners would be to articulate your mission clearly and the impact your business aims to make. Investors and grant programs look to companies with compelling stories and a clear vision for the future. Additionally, build strong relationships within your industry and community—networking is often a gateway to funding opportunities. Be persistent, stay adaptable to market trends, and showcase the value your business brings. Finally, don’t be afraid to seek mentorship and guidance from experienced entrepreneurs who can provide valuable insights and support on your funding journey.