Interviews after Studtor's first squash pairing.

So, I interviewed my friend Avi (student of a Squash lesson) about his experience learning squash from a stranger.

Overall, he had a great experience! He loved the quality of the lesson and was surprised that Steph (the instructor) was a first-time teacher. He really enjoyed the cost-free aspect of the lesson. He also mentioned that he would have paid up to $30 for the lesson or exchanged his knowledge of financial modeling for the lesson. I can’t tell if he was being polite, but he also said that he’d do it again as a non-guinea pig since he learned the basics of squash. 

He brought up some interesting points. First, it’s tough finding good teachers. Even though he was thoroughly impressed with Steph’s ability to teach squash as a first-time teacher, he felt like I would eventually have problems finding teachers who are quality teachers. He felt like the student’s experience would be poor if the teacher did a poor job of conveying information, regardless of price. I am not certain of this assumption actually…  if my teacher wasn’t great but was worth paying $20 for but not $80, would I still go back to the teacher if $20 was the lowest price on the market and if I felt I was still learning? My gut says yes, but I definitely understand his point: scaling while trying to provide high-quality lessons would be very difficult.

Lastly, a thought of my own: Peer-to-peer marketplaces are difficult to set up when the customer doesn’t expect variability in the service and when it’s hard to provide transparency of quality. For example, I think it would be difficult to setup a business when the service providers vary in quality AND if the customer doesn’t expect or appreciate that variability. When I worked at Kitchensurfing, I witnessed this problem to some degree. Customers did not really appreciate that a $60 per head meal would be widely different in quality from a meal prepared by another chef at the same price point. However, I imagine a business like Etsy doesn’t really have this same problem. Customers seem to embrace the fact that Etsy’s goods vary from item to item. I wonder why. Is it because they like the variability when it comes to bespoke goods? Or is it because the picture of the good on Etsy’s site establishes a high degree of trust and sets expectations about what they are buying. My gut points to the latter reason. Unfortunately for my skill-sharing idea, that clarity is not something that a customer has when purchasing a squash lesson or purchasing a chef’s services. I wonder how to get around this problem? Do I find a way to provide quality control? Do I believe cutting out services where there is wide variability is a must? How does a company like CoachUp deal with the problem of variability in sports coaching? Is this a major problem? How does a company balance offering quality in-person instruction with quality control and consistency issues?

Written on August 26, 2014