The tuition industry in the UK is worth £6bn and is growing, with a quarter of British children having received tuition in the last three years. Finding a tutor remains, however, a difficult process.
Tutora solves this. The company help parents find and book great private tutors. The platform covers every subject and every age, across the whole of the UK. Since launching 18 months ago, the business is now the third largest tuition company in the UK with over 6,000 tutors.
What do you attribute your growth to?
Most businesses are premised on the aim of solving a problem – ours is that parents find it very difficult to find a tutor. I think our growth has largely been down to the fact that we’ve created a better solution to this than other companies.
Whilst those who came before us charged parents up-front fees for the contact details of tutors, we allow students to message for free and instead take a commission on the lessons taught. This better aligns us with parents, who want to be able to make the most informed decision possible, and, importantly, message tutors to ask any questions they might have.
Ultimately, that means students are both happier to make enquiries – they will only pay when they start learning – and happier to book, as they’ve had the chance to confirm that the tutor is the right one for them! We think it’s a much better solution for parents, which means that they’ve visited our site and that our tutors gain new students quickly.
Why do you think the online tutoring market has failed to innovate? Whom are the other players?
Other sites have taken a more short-term view in their business models and sought to place barriers between students and tutors messaging in order to take an up-front ‘matching fee.’ A major problem with this is that they match the students and tutors and away they go – there’s no way of seeing whether they’ve made a good match.
Our commission-based business model not only means that parents are happier to book, it also means that every lesson is paid for through our site. This allows us to collect a large amount of information on who the best tutors are. By combining this with student reviews, we can make sure that we only allow the best tutors to work with us, and make far better matches. This is allowing us to bring trust and transparency to the industry, and truly solve the problem of finding a great tutor.
At the time of your first raise, you were a two-man team. How have you been able to deal with everything and have you taken on new talent to help?
It’s certainly been a struggle to keep up with our growth – not that we’re complaining! Following our initial raise, we quickly hired Faye as an Education Consultant – she’s been wonderful and is a real asset to the team.
We now have seven members of staff and are growing a fantastic team. It’s wonderful to have people like Mike, who is an outstanding developer, and Giorgio, who is an expert marketer. Bringing people on board who have the specialist knowledge we require has allowed us to make great strides forward in all that we do.
I think having such positive growth has allowed us to bring in the best people possible, as it’s a really exciting place to work.
What do your students and tutors love about the platform? What exciting features do you have in store?
We make finding a tutor a really enjoyable and a hassle-free process. We’ve had so many wonderful messages of thanks from parents who have previously struggled to find someone. Similarly, our tutors love being part of a community who are all seeking to help students, whilst parents feel that they’re not alone, as they can read all of the reviews other students have left following their own lessons.
We’ve got lots of new features in the pipeline – most of our users will see the new designs which have been pushed live this week. The dashboard is getting a complete makeover and we’re looking forward to launching this really soon. We’re committed to providing a great user experience, so we’re excited to launch what will make managing all of your lessons, or students, incredibly easy.
Following the funding, we’ll be working on a new online tuition portal and apps for both students and tutors! We’re always looking to innovate.
Who are your role models? Which companies and leaders to you look up to for inspiration?
Personally, whilst it’s an obvious choice, I love Airbnb. The idea is such a simple one and one that can be easily replicated, but the fact is that they found the best solution and continue to execute brilliantly. For me, that’s the best way to create a great business and something I think all of our team aspire to.
I actually try not to read things by other entrepreneurs – I worry that it will lead me to think the same as everyone else. Instead, I make sure that I still speak to our tutors and students every day. Ultimately, if we weren’t being led to improvements by those guys then we’re not serving them as well as we could.
Do you receive any mentoring from other people/businesses about running and growing a small business?
We’ve had some exceptional supporters since we started the business. This is a great opportunity for me to promote Sheffield’s tech scene, as it’s too often overlooked. The University of Sheffield has a wonderful Enterprise Zone, which introduced us to people like Samantha Deakin and Michael Howe from Campus Capital, who are hugely knowledgeable. Other business owners in the city, like Patrick Speedie from In-Part or Sam Chapman from The Floow, have given us some valuable advice.
Have you done/doing anything different from your first round of crowdfunding to this round?
Given that our initial raise went through in just four days, we’ve taken a similar approach this time. I suppose the biggest difference is that we’ve got the support of our initial investors. We’ve been delighted with the reaction we’ve had from those investors and their appetite to follow-on. They’re clearly delighted with how far we’ve come in such a short time but can also see how much further we can go. We look forward to welcoming new investors, during our second raise on Crowdcube.
You can find out more about Tutora by visiting the pitch page today.
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