RONIT TEHRANI, 26, of Overbrook Farms, is co-founder (with Edward Kraftmann, 29, of Bala Cynwyd; and Jonathan Krause, 20, of Teaneck, N.J.) of So2Speak.org, a nonprofit group that combines speech and education to empower youth. It consists of two main programs: Strive2Speak, which enhances speech fluency, and Education2Enrichment, an after-school lounge for middle- and high-school students in Bala Cynwyd.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea for So2Speak?
A: Edward and I started a nonprofit and wanted to reach more people because originally it was to help students with speech impediments. Then we decided to combine speech with education and came up with the Homework Bar & Lounge. We brought on Jonathan to help translate the idea into something that was cool, hip and fun.
Q: Startup money?
A: About $100,000 from family, friends and foundations.
Q: What does So2Speak do?
A: Education2Enrichment is the Homework Bar & Lounge. It's our center for teens, where they can get tutoring and enjoy club activities like yoga, culinary arts, art and billiards. We wanted a drop-in, lounge-like environment, except without alcohol. Strive2Speak addresses the needs of those who have challenges speaking. It's open to adults and kids and is free to those who stutter or stammer.
Q: The biz model?
A: It's a membership model with various packages: a monthly gold package for $395, a silver package for $295 and day passes for $20. Both packages include free Wi-Fi, unlimited access and a complimentary hour of subject coaching. Tutoring ranges from $55 to $495 for middle-school students and $75 to $675 for high-school students based on the number of sessions you want.
Q: You have driver's ed?
A: This is a separate entity we call Driven2Drive. We have a fleet of MINI Coopers and just received our license from the state and will be offering classes beginning Monday. Again, there are various packages, but one-on-one instruction for teens, one two-hour session and safe-driving techniques is $160.
Q: Which kids are we talking about here?
A: We're focused on the Bala area: six middle schools and a high school. We'll provide a van to pick students up from nearby city schools if there's demand and parents come and get them.
Q: How many families have you signed up?
A: About 20 so far.
Q: The long-term plan?
A: I see us in other cities and a second location in Philly. I'd like Homework Bar & Lounge to get kids off the streets. One goal is a scholarship fund for students who can't afford us now.