SME has caught up with Scott Woodley, a former teacher who helped set up Tutora and is now its CEO, after talking to them around a year ago to see how things are progressing. This is what we learnt:
Remind us - what is Tutora?
Tutora is a marketplace which allows students and parents to find the best local tutors. We cover every subject and every age, across the whole of the UK.
Last time we spoke, the business had just raised its first round of investment. What has happened since?
Yes. We raised £150k in April last year through Crowdcube, with the aim of scaling the business - at that point we only had 1,400 tutors and were operating largely out of a few of the largest cities.
Since then we've grown rapidly and now have over 6,000 tutors, covering everything from maths to mandarin, and science to psychology. What's most pleasing is the number of students we've been able to help. We've hit all of our targets since the initial raise and have grown 700% since April.
The team has also grown pretty quickly. There are now six of us, with two more members of staff joining soon. We've actually got to move offices to accommodate everyone and only moved in here a couple of months ago.
Tell us more about the people getting tuition
It's really varied. Most people think that tuition is purely the preserve of the wealthy, but with lessons costing as little as £15 per hour, that's definitely not the case. We have learners of every age, from children who are struggling for confidence in primary school with basic reading and writing, to those studying for GCSE maths, or even very specialist degree level coursework. We also help adult learners and are often contacted by people looking to learn a new language or instrument.
And the tutors?
Of course, many of our tutors are qualified teachers who are teaching in schools and want to earn a little extra alongside their standard hours, but we also have university students teaching with us. We've actually found that some of our best tutors are students who have recently been through the exams themselves. They can really identify with the needs of the learners and know exactly how to help them.
On a business footing, what has been the biggest challenge so far?
That's really hard to answer. I think the biggest challenge as a founder has been in having to put on so many different hats. Since starting the business, we've been the accountants, the designers, the customer service... you name it, we've done it. That's been both difficult and incredibly rewarding, as we've learnt so much.
As a business, I think the most difficult thing has been deciding what to prioritise. With limited resources, both in terms of staff and finance, we've often had to decide between various new features, and advertising channels. I think we've always been laser-focused on helping more students, and that will remain as our key focus moving forward.
And, finally, you're now raising a second round of investment. What will you do with the money?
Firstly, we'll continue to bring new tutors on to the site so we can cover the whole of the UK. We also plan on developing an online tuition portal, and apps for both students and tutors. Of course, we'll continue to improve the core site, and shout louder about how we can help people, by upping our advertising, both in the UK and, ultimately, internationally.
To view Tutora's pitch, please visit https://crowdcube.com/tutora