Paper CEO Philip Cutler is changing online learning

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Early in his career as an elementary school teacher, Philip Cutler noticed a disparity among his students in their ability to access tutoring. The students who received extra support were generally from the wealthiest 20%, but they were rarely the ones who needed the most help. So in 2015, Cutler co-founded Paper, an ed-tech service used by schools in North America to provide accessible virtual tutoring to more than 2.5 million students. This summer, the company secured $343 million in Series D capital, bringing its total funding to $496 million.

Age: 33
Situated at: Montreal
Diploma: Bachelor of Education (McGill University)

I thought I would become:

An athlete. I’ve always loved playing hockey, football and golf, but realized that I didn’t have to be a pro to play sports.

Best advice I’ve ever heard:

If you can actually solve a problem with money, then by all means solve it with money. However, most problems in business and in life cannot be solved with money alone.

My most memorable mistake:

My mistakes have been about people, either by not investing enough in those who showed promise early on, or by relying on people because of their experience, even if they didn’t necessarily have the conviction or drive . I will no longer let a hiring manager so easily convince me of a candidate by saying, “Hey, this person is awesome. Look at their experience. I have to trust my instincts no matter what the resume says.

The hardest decision I had to make:

When Covid first hit in 2020, there was unrest everywhere. The advice I heard was, “Now is the time to
slow everything down. We don’t know where the world is going. With everyone telling me to do otherwise, I made the difficult decision to invest heavily in a big shift to virtual learning and technology adoption in schools. I thought that if we could get through this successfully, we would create a great company and thus support a lot of students. Everything ended up being okay.

I never confuse:

Activity with productivity. We live and breathe the difference between doing something and actually making a difference.

Words I use the most:

“Winning is a decision.” That’s basically our philosophy at Paper. In our case, we define winning as better supporting students.

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