Brad, Jordan, and John are MIT grads who founded Prompt with a mission of making people better writers.
As writers, they all separately came to the realization that defines Prompt: receiving and acting on written feedback provided by subject-knowledgeable people is the best way to improve writing skills.
In 2013, they found each other, and in 2014, a company was born. Today, Prompt is the world leader in high-quality, timely, instructional feedback on the higher-order aspects of writing (e.g., content, structure, clarity).
Here’s a short history of Prompt and our philosophy as told by Brad Schiller, our eternally optimistic CEO:
Writing is a lot more than grammar. Since our beginning, we’ve focused on the higher-order aspects of writing: content, structure, and clarity.
Our approach is like that of a great teacher; we identify gaps (and what works), provide instruction, and detail actions the student can take.
The most important thing we offer is time. The world’s education system is not set up to support students with writing. It’s a math problem (our founders did go to MIT after all). Let’s say a teacher has 100 students across their classes. Spending just 5 minutes providing feedback on each essay would take over 8 hours. Now, we know 5 minutes is not enough. At Prompt, we’ve found common essays require 12-15 minutes, and critical essays like those for college admissions require about 45. As such, a great teacher would need to spend over 20 hours providing feedback on a single writing assignment – along with everything else they need to teach.
We provide K-12 and higher education institutions with access to writing feedback capacity delivered within hours rather than weeks, enabling students to get feedback and act on it while their writing is still fresh in their minds.
We accept less than 2% of candidates into our network and continuously monitor their results. We have a rigorous process for onboarding new coaches whereby we screen for certain traits: thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and tone. Then, coaches go through hours of orientation and evaluation before they’re admitted to the network.
Our Writing Coaches have a wide range of life experiences and backgrounds, including teachers, professors, journalists, authors, and playwrights. We find there are many common threads: 80% have an advanced degree (all have undergrad degrees). 75% have prior teaching experience. All are passionate about working with students to improve their writing skills.
Writing tutoring and coaching is really hard. We’ve figured it out and have the capacity to provide thousands of thorough, quality reviews within hours. Writing coaching is very different from math, test prep, or spoken language tutoring. In writing, there are many shades of “right” and many ability levels.
Writing coaching best occurs asynchronously. It’s not practical for a coach to wait on a video call while a student practices writing. Live feedback doesn’t allow a coach to strategize deeply about the essay and doesn’t provide a thoughtful, written roadmap for implementing the feedback. Written feedback allows the coach to think and the student to internalize and execute on the feedback. We do offer live coaching calls for helping students get started before they write.
We excel at operations. The first step is to identify talented coaches who are thorough, thoughtful, and relentlessly positive. The second step is to implement a clearly defined process coaches follow that incentivizes the growth of every student’s abilities and concentrates on actionable instruction. The third step is to operate as a managed community, allowing more experienced coaches to quality check other coaches while also allowing all coaches to ask for a second pair of eyes whenever they are unsure about a recommendation.