An award-winning entrepreneur and MIT alum, Christine Outram is the CEO of Everydae, the world’s smartest digital tutor. Previously, she was the Chief Product Officer at Veritas Prep, where she incubated and launched the adaptive learning platform, ORION. Prior to this she led the product and design team at DogVacay and the Innovation department at digital agency Deutsch. She also invented the electric bike, the Copenhagen Wheel, a TIME Magazine Best Invention.
We spoke with Christine about her career path, how Everydae is revolutionizing the world of online tutoring, and her advice for pursuing a career in tech.
Hi Christine! Tell us about yourself — how did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always been interested in new technologies, which I think comes from my Dad. We had a computer from the early 80’s and I started playing on it when I was about 3. But despite my early interest, it took me a long time to get back into tech.
I got accepted into a dance academy straight out of high school, but I quit after 6 months. I then did an architecture degree because it seemed like a good blend of creativity and science. In truth, it was wonderful training for combining left and right brain thinking, but it simply took too long to get anything built! After a few years in the industry, I left to pursue a research degree at MIT. My main topic of interest? How new technologies are shaping our lives.
MIT was a turning point for me. I was surrounded by people who didn’t actually talk about building the change they wanted to see in the world, they actually did it. Our motto was demo-or-die. It was here that I also led a team of researchers and designers in the development of an electric bike — The Copenhagen Wheel — that became a TIME Magazine Best Invention.
After leaving MIT, I founded a consultancy that helped organizations decide what to do with their big data. Then I spent a few years in advertising heading up an innovation lab. Finally I got into startups — mostly in a product or design role. Before my most recent company, I was Chief Product Officer at an education-tech company.
Everydae is a digital tutor that helps students ace high school without the stress, providing programs that feel more like fun than work. What inspired you to join the team at Everydae?
I was inspired to join Everydae because of our mission — I truly believe that we can use technology to scale what a human tutor can do (without the resource-heavy cost of a human!). In doing so, we can provide access to high quality and affordable supplemental education for all families, not just the rich.
The other reason I joined was because it was a progression of my previous work. Before Everydae, I was the Chief Product Officer at the education company, Veritas Prep. The company was sold in 2018, but there was one piece of the business the owners kept — some adaptive tech that my team and I had been working on.
This technology is now the backbone for our new venture — Everydae. During the spin out of the new company, I was asked to be Chief Executive Officer.https://www.youtube.com/embed/HdEsYUUKqko?feature=oembedLearn more about Everydae
How is Everydae disrupting the digital tutoring space, and what’s next for the company?
Today, 85% of U.S. families can’t afford tutoring or the supplemental education that can help their children reach their potential. This leaves an ever widening gap between the haves and the have nots. With Everydae, students can ace their classes and prepare for college with fun, 10-minute micro lessons that can adapt based on their needs and goals. And unlike a traditional tutor — that can cost $75/hour and up! — Everydae starts at less than $1 a day.
What’s next for the company is fulfilling our vision. We currently have 2 courses for students — an SAT prep course and a “Find my Passion” course. However, in a few months we will have Algebra, Biology, Chemistry, English Literature, Money Management, and “How to Craft a Compelling College Application.”
Our other big goal is partnerships — we just brokered a partnership deal with an Indian company to reach that market. We also have a partnership with a company that is focusing on bringing some of our soft skill and job ready courses to Community Colleges.
Ultimately, it’s about providing access to all types of courses — academic, college and career/life-prep — for all types of students, at one low price. The Netflix of education, if you will.
What are some of the greatest opportunities you see right now to drive meaningful change when it comes to more equitable representation in the tech and startup worlds?
I’d like to say something insightful here, but I really think it just starts with the small things:
- Making sure we have a diverse representation of people at conferences and for speaking engagements
- Checking ourselves during the hiring process — not just gravitating to the people who look and speak like us, but asking ourselves, “what is missing on my team and how do I find someone with those unique talents, regardless of their background?”
- Blind CVs — scrubbing information about name and schools from CVs — those things are not needed to make a decision about someone
- Blind pitch decks — let’s also scrub names, photos and schools from pitch decks while we’re at it
At Noun Project, we believe visual language has the power to shape, reinforce and change perceptions. What are your thoughts on why diverse visual representation in tech is important to help change the status quo in the industry?
This is vital. I don’t think many (or any!) of us truly realize the biases we hold and how visual representations have reinforced these notions. But as the famous quote from Marshall McLuhan goes “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” It’s a very powerful message.
Looking to the future, what inspires you and what initiatives are you most excited about right now?
I am inspired by more students reaching their potential. I am inspired by taking the stress and anxiety out of the transition from high school up into college and career. And I am inspired by our team at Everydae — never have I worked with such an amazing group. Now it’s time to change the world.
What advice would you give to people who are currently navigating the path to a career in tech?
The tech world moves fast and you need to be constantly growing and pushing yourself to both learn new things and execute on them quickly. If this doesn’t sound like you — if you’re not a life-long learner or prefer the perfect solution before you build something — then this might not be the right career for you.