Nigel Stewart, CEO of Mission2Motivate
M2M is a digital educational platform that aims to improve virtual learning for minority students. Young, energetic, and minority tutors can apply to tutor underrepresented students at struggling schools, mainly in the Atlanta area. All of the tutoring sessions are virtual and happen on the platform.
There are several other features that Mission2Motivate offers and he is excited to build and share.
Connect with Nigel on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Transitioning to a web-app
- Why this platform is needed
- The process of “starting” a business
- What my short term and future goals for the business are
- Expanding the business
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s New standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:24] Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And this is one of my favorite things we do. We have a series partnering with the folks at GSU where we spotlight some of the folks going through the Main Street Entrepreneurship Seed Fund. And I’m so excited to be talking to one of those people today. Nigel Stewart. He is with Mission to Motivate. Welcome, Nigel.
Nigel Stewart: [00:00:47] Hey, thanks for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:48] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about mission to motivate. How you serving folks?
Nigel Stewart: [00:00:53] It’s an online digital online educational platform designed to improve virtual learning for minority students. So the main aspect is that I connect virtual young minority tutors with young minority students, mainly between third and fifth grade at struggling schools who need the extra education.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:12] So what was the genesis of the idea? How did this get started?
Nigel Stewart: [00:01:16] It started in 2020 during Covid. I was a senior at Morehouse College. I have a sister. She’s 13 years younger than me. She’s in the third grade. At the time, her and all her friends were struggling with the new remote learning. I wasn’t struggling necessarily, but I didn’t enjoy remote learning at all. Most of my peers didn’t. So I knew there was a market for better virtual education, really for all ages. But I figured that grades third through fifth needed it the most, especially in the Atlanta area where I see a lot of education is lacking. So I just decided I used to tutor in undergrad and I just decided to first use my skills to see if I could make a difference. So I started tutoring online just to see what the market looked like and how things moved. And then once I got more comfortable, I started outsourcing and hiring some of my peers, some of my classmates who also wanted a tutor and just matched them with parents who wanted to sign up. So I started a website and allowed parents or students to just sign up online and then I would match them with the tutor that I had on my site. And this transitioned greatly since then, but that is definitely how it started.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:21] So is the curriculum the same nowadays, or do you study different things than you did when you started?
Nigel Stewart: [00:02:28] It’s the same. It’s always basic classes, math, English, science for all ages. So, you know, math could be regular edition and algebra and subtraction. It also be calculus. And, you know, science can be physics, chemistry, biology. And then also, I’ve had some tutors even be proficient in Spanish and French. So like I said, all ages. It really just depends on the student’s needs. Whatever a student needs help with, I can have a tutor help them.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:55] Now, is the tutoring one on one or is it a group session?
Nigel Stewart: [00:02:59] It’s a mainly a one on one session, especially for younger students. I feel like once it gets to a virtual session that’s bigger than three or to five, it just resembles a classroom setting, which is what I’m trying to avoid. I’m trying the goal is to always make sure that students are engaged, having a good time and just feel, you know, spirited about the session they’re in. I don’t want them to feel like it’s a drag or it’s it’s another class or, you know, an education setting that they don’t feel like doing. They should be excited about it. And I feel like that one on one opportunity just makes it a greater experience.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:34] Now, when you started doing this, when did you start seeing some traction saying, you know what, I think I’m on to something here. I think this is something that’s needed, number one. But also I can train other people to execute so I don’t have to do all the tutoring.
Nigel Stewart: [00:03:49] After the first couple of months because I started having a lot of parents signing up and my schedule didn’t allow me to tutor all their students. And that’s when it finally clicked, like, okay, I got to find some more people. And then I realized I don’t have to do it at all. And that’s kind of always the goal. You know, when you’re the CEO, of course you want to be hands on, but you don’t want to be doing the groundwork. So that’s when I realized that it’s time to start outsourcing and hiring more tutors. And then I started recruiting, which I hadn’t done before either. So sending out applications, interviewing people, hiring people, receiving resumes, all of that was was new to me, but it was a great learning experience and I’m glad I got to do it because that also helped with my managerial experience. So yeah, it wasn’t long, just a really maybe three, four months. I had a lot of parents start signing up.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:39] Now when you’re doing something like you’re doing with this double sided marketplace, is it harder to get students that need tutoring or is it harder to find tutors?
Nigel Stewart: [00:04:50] It’s harder to find students that need tutoring. Finding tutors was actually or still is one of the easiest parts of the business. Not to say it’s easy, it’s just easier compared to everything else. The tutors are eager. I have connections at my school at Morehouse College where I went, but also other several HBCUs, Howard University, Spelman College, Clark University. And I can go on. I’m trying to make connections at University of Virginia. The list goes on. It’s not never a shortage of people that want to to. Going get back to their community. Finding students that want to be tutored is definitely trickier because not every student that needs it necessarily wants to do it. And that’s at the age where a lot of students, frankly, just don’t really care or are highly invested in their education yet because they’re so young, you know, they’re focused on maybe playing a sport or having a good time being social, making friends. It’s a lot of other factors, especially if there’s stuff going on at home. But what I found early was definitely parents who were encouraging their kids to do that. So now I’m even partnering with schools or nonprofit school systems to just provide students so they’ll have a pool of students that need the help. And then I provide the tutors and match them with them, set up the organization. That way they don’t have to sign up individually. It’s already something that the school necessarily offers to them.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:13] So for parents that are listening right now, what are some kind of things they can be looking for with their kid to say, you know what, maybe my kid does need tutoring. I like it. It may not even occur to them that they would benefit from a service like this.
Nigel Stewart: [00:06:30] Just a lack of communication. I feel like a lot of students who are proud of what they do go home and just share with their parents. If students are hiding what they’re doing or aren’t being fully honest, it might be time just to check in. But also just, you know, if a student is lacking in something, maybe they are struggling and maybe they’re good in English and science, but not good at math. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad student. It just means they might need a little extra help, which is what my service is providing. There are our 30 minutes an hour long session, so they’re not very long. They can be once a week, twice a week, three times a week. It’s just something extra to help, you know, supplement what they’re not getting in school. And sometimes that’s what we need. I needed it when I was growing up. I’m sure at some point everybody’s kid has needed just a little help figuring things out. Maybe it’s help with organization, maybe it’s help with studying, maybe it’s helped with the subject, maybe it’s helped with reading. It could be a series of things that are all a part of a young child’s development, and you can never really get enough of that. So it might not even be. A student needs help with a certain subject it might need. They are extremely unorganized and can’t focus with all the work they have to do. So one of my tutors can help set up a schedule and facilitate things differently than what the teachers can at school or even what the parents can. It’s just an extra voice because really it takes a community to build up a child and my platform is adding to that community.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:55] Now. How do you see this platform evolving?
Nigel Stewart: [00:07:59] So I’m actually in the works of building out an app now, so it’ll be a web app platform very soon. It will be a one stop shop so students and schools will be allowed to apply based on, you know, certain criteria, but not much. They’ll be allowed to create a profile and then from there make a schedule with the tutors calendar as well. So tutors will also be able to sign up and apply. And then when I receive money from donations from nonprofits and organizations to pay out the tutors, donors will be able to make a profile and donate money on the site as well. And then all three entities or no, for school students, tutors and donors will all be able to communicate because everybody’s there for the same reason, which is improving minority education. And they’ll be able to interact, set up schedules, have one on ones, and make the tutoring aspect easy and all in one place. So it’s not a bunch of parties trying to figure out where everything is. Everything’s in one central area location and also schools and students and tutors will be able to keep up with students progress and just the work they have to do work completed organizing, planning, everything will be available on the platform. So that’s coming very soon.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:15] Now, have you been doing this long enough to see results of your efforts? Is there something that is documented that says, okay, we’ve had this many kids go through this and this is, you know, they were at this level when they started and now they’re at this new level several months in.
Nigel Stewart: [00:09:31] Yeah, I would say it’s a handful. So I don’t have extensive data, but I am confident in the work I’ve done, especially all the parent feedback. So every parent that I have had tutored has given great feedback and I can not I don’t just have their testimonials, but I also have their, you know, information to contact them whenever I need. Let’s see somebody or a recommendation or anything like that. So I have definitely proven the students that I have had come through. I have their their grades and their testimonials as well. I had one previous partnership with the I don’t want to name the school, but it was a school in Cobb County right outside of Atlanta, and they refused to give me the data once the semester was over. But, you know, that’s why that’s a learning process. So it I didn’t necessarily get. What I wanted out of it at the end, but I was able to say I did it and learn a lot of things doing that. But that’s just something that I’ll be working towards as I move forward. Especially building out the app is connecting with schools to make sure I get all the data necessary to move forward. But yeah, right now I have a handful of testimonials from students and parents who viewed my platform as highly helpful.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:47] Now, what inspired you to get involved with the Main Street Entrepreneurship Seed Fund?
Nigel Stewart: [00:10:53] It’s funny, so I just saw the application in my email and I was nervous to apply. When I first saw it. I was like, I don’t even I don’t need this. I think I’m okay. But then after a couple of days, I was like, You know, why not? It’s a great opportunity. I went in when I looked a second time, I went to the cohorts main page and looked at their first, second and third cohorts from the last couple of years and just figured that it might be something that would be advantageous for me in my business. I wasn’t aware of any other accelerator programs and I to be honest, I wasn’t even that wasn’t something I was looking for. I didn’t know they were really out there for that and I didn’t know Georgia State had one. I just am good with checking my email. I think that’s something underrated that a lot of people don’t do is check every email. You never know what’s going to pop up. But once I applied and went through the application and did some more research, I was extremely excited and then I wasn’t sure I was going to be accepted. It was a long interview process I had to pitch and I hadn’t pitched before. I had to build a starter deck, which I didn’t have. And yeah, the application led me to steps that I should have been doing with my business in the first place. So I’m forever grateful for what they’ve done. And now that I’ve been accepted, it’s been an amazing experience and where I might be halfway through. So yeah, they’ve given me much more than I could have ever, not just even like hope for, but just want it as well. I’m just extremely grateful. And every day I try to make sure I’m taking advantage of what they’re offering now.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:30] Are you able to incorporate any of the way that they’re mentoring you into your process?
Nigel Stewart: [00:12:37] Oh, every time they are well experienced, obviously, they’ve, you know, invested and created several businesses themselves from an individual standpoint. And also their network is extensive and they’ve been having people reach out to me when they can’t help me. So wherever I need help, they make sure that’s available. And it’s immediate. It doesn’t take them days or weeks. They find somebody that day and put me in an email chain and that person responds back to me very quickly. So it’s just all types of work. We have weekly workshops, so the workshops help their advice, help the one on one calls, help the mentor calls, help everything. And that’s really how I came to the conclusion that I wanted to even build a web app because I personally wasn’t thinking big enough when I started this app. And, you know, now that I’m here, it’s developing into something I never could have imagined. I told somebody the other day, I figured I’d be doing service in another country before I was building an app. So that’s what this Main Street program has done for me mainly is just open up my mind and taught me to, you know, expand what I believe this business can even be. And then just the knowledge and information I’ve gained in the last couple of months already is more than what some people get in their lifetime. So yeah, it’s it’s I could go on and on about the experience and the notes I’ve got and what they’ve done and how I’ve already pivoted 2 or 3 times since I even started the Main Street program.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:05] And it’s a great example and it really is similar to the work you’re doing when you put help at the right time in a person’s life, it can really take a person to a new level, help them dream bigger, help them accomplish more if it’s presented correctly, if it’s, you know, fairly easy to incorporate and it can really change lives.
Nigel Stewart: [00:14:29] Yeah. And just building on top of that, back to the tutoring. That’s why the tutors are so good at what they do is because they’re showing young minority and black students that it’s okay to be smart, it’s okay. You can come from where you come from and want to be an education, you know, And they’re showing that there’s other avenues besides the stereotypical and traditional ways there are for a young minority or black student to grow up and be successful. And that’s the main aspect of this whole business, is showing that education can be more than what’s offered from a 9:00 to 3:00 basis, especially when it comes to virtual education.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:10] So what do you need more of? How can we help you?
Nigel Stewart: [00:15:14] I just need, of course, getting the word out. Word of mouth is everything but starting to receive donations to pay off the tutors. The. I am not looking for donations for a mission to motivate. I’m looking for donations to pay out the tutors with and when I get those donations, they will sit in the fund until I’m ready to pay the tutors out. And then also, once the app and web app is being finished, donors will be able to sign up and see exactly where their money is going to, what schools and what students specifically by way of the platform. So just getting help, you know, starting those conversations and making sure that these nonprofits, organizations and donors know that this is being built and it’s all for the betterment of minority education, especially in the Atlanta area, so that they’re ready when the site is ready to go live again, because it’s obviously being built up that they’re ready to donate money and can help the tutors get paid.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:11] So if somebody wants to connect with you and learn more, what is the best way to do that? Is there a website or on LinkedIn? What’s the best way to connect?
Nigel Stewart: [00:16:19] Yeah, so there’s several platforms. First, my LinkedIn. Nigel Stewart It says it CEO of Mission to motivate, but also my personal and business email right now is Nigel Nigel Stewart street art to two at gmail.com. Nigel Stewart to two at gmail.com. But also contact at mission to motivate.com. That’s the business email the website. It’s funny it’s it’s almost like a dinosaur now because I pivoted so much in the last couple of months. It’s not up to date, but you can still sign up and send me a note on the website. It’s at the registration on the bottom. And then. Yeah, just if you know anybody that wants to get in contact, please share my email and I’ll be happy sharing my phone number off of this as well. So yeah, any LinkedIn email? Um, even my, my email is in Stewart email@example.com if anybody’s wondering and.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:18] The website is mission the number to motivate.com if they want to go and contact you through that.
Nigel Stewart: [00:17:23] Yeah I’m sorry it’s mission to motivate.com and it’s the number two so mission number two motivate.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:30] Well Nigel Nigel thank you so much for sharing your story you’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Nigel Stewart: [00:17:38] Thank you for having me. This is very exciting and very helpful.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:41] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time on GSU indie radio.
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