Entrepreneur Feature: James Grant of TutorTap

We are delighted to follow-up on the announcement of our investment in TutorTap with an interesting interview with the CEO, James Grant.

Q: How did it all start?

A. I had received tutoring at school and it made a huge difference to my academic progress. When I was a university student, I thought that tutoring would be a great way to make some much-needed money. However, there were all sorts of problems such as finding enough work and travelling to students’ homes. After the large commissions that traditional tutoring agencies take, it no longer seemed worth the effort. I founded TutorTap to address these problems and make tutoring accessible to a much broader market.

Q: What’s the best part of your job?

A. We receive great feedback from schools, students, and tutors. It is fantastic to read about how our platform is helping all of our users, what they like about it, and how they want to see it improve. A big part of my job is improving the platform on a continual basis, and it really helps to incorporate the users’ feedback. The UK is a world leader in education and so I love meeting with head teachers and other companies in our space to share views and gain new insights on the future direction of education in this country.

Q: Where do you hope to be in 5 years’ time?

A. We aim to achieve the following three targets within the next 5 years:

  • Provide inspiring tutors from the UK’s leading universities to pupils at 200 ambitious schools and show the benefits of online tutoring in terms of improved grades and university admissions
  • Create distance learning programmes in partnership with UK schools and using our highest performing tutors, to give students from around the world access to the UK education system. Our target regions are developing countries in the Commonwealth, China, and the Middle East
  • Establish TutorTap as the leading source of expert academic help for UK university students. We want to connect undergraduates with postgraduates in their field, and postgraduates with research assistants working on similar topics

Q: How much progress have you made since you raised your seed investment?

A. Our seed investment allowed us to start working full time on TutorTap from April. In the four months since then, we have developed a fully functional platform with market-leading virtual classroom technology that has now been validated with several hundred individual paid lessons. We have signed up over 1,000 tutors from over 3,000 applications, and put 50 of these through a rigorous multi-stage screening and interview process to ensure their suitability for our school programmes. Our first school programme will start in September and we are working hard to set up several more during this academic term.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge?

A. Our biggest challenge is getting in front of head teachers to tell them about the benefits of our platform. Schools are extremely busy and are usually inundated by companies offering poor quality products who mistake schools for easy targets. The challenge for us is to cut through that noise and show that we are offering game-changing innovation that ultimately saves schools time and money, while providing life-changing benefits to their pupils.

Q: Are there any blogs/websites/influential people you recommend that people follow?

A. Our favourite source of advice on marketing to schools is the Sprint Education blog: www.sprint-education.co.uk/blog/

There are also a number of blogs with interesting insights on start-ups:

Nic Brisbourne, Forward Partners: theequitykicker.com
Sam Altman, Y-Combinator: blog.samaltman.com
Fred Destin, Seedcamp: freddestin.com
Christoph Janz, Zendesk: christophjanz.blogspot.de
Fred Wilson, Etsy: avc.com