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Making the Grade with TutorHQ
Are you a student in need of grinds? Perhaps you’re not getting the one-on-one attention that you need at school or college and you want to find someone to help you fast, but someone who is highly qualified and living in your area? It was the recognition of a need for tutors and the idea to make them easily and quickly accessible that lead 27-year-old Orla McCallion from Celbridge in Kildare to set up TutorHQ this year, alongside her business partner 28-year-old Sean Judge from Santry in Dublin.
“We used to give grinds to other students while we were in college,” says Orla, explaining how the idea for their first business venture came about. “Sean graduated before me and found that he was inundated with requests for grinds. At first, he taught the students himself,” she explains, “but after a while he started hiring other tutors to do the work and taking a cut of their earnings.” It was at this point that the two came together and decided that this had the basis of a good business idea.
Taking the leap
Leaving their business consulting positions, they approached the student union bodies in Trinity College, University College Dublin and Dublin City University with the idea. They all agreed to partner with Orla and Sean and provide a service offering grinds to students in need. “It’s often the case that a certain percentage of students in one class need one-on-one attention from a tutor and it can’t be provided,” explains Orla. “Most lecturers are aware of this and happy for students to take grinds as a result. And that’s where we come in.”
The company launched last year, and since then Sean and Orla have branched out into providing grinds for Junior and Leaving Certificate students due to demand. “We decided that we’d set up a separate site for school grinds and started a new company called TutorHQ,” explains Orla. “It officially launched last September and has been doing incredibly well since.”
A unique offering
Challenges the business initially faced included the recruitment of tutors, not only in Dublin but in other parts of the country like Limerick, Cork and Galway. It’s also been a challenge to make students aware of the service and most of their marketing has concentrated on online ads. “Our ultimate aim is to provide a tutor for students, no matter where they are in the country,” Orla says. “But we also have to make students aware that we exist.”
At the moment, the company’s main competitors are grind schools. However, TutorHQ differs in that it offers one-on-one tutoring in the student’s own home. All tutors are vetted by the company and Orla stresses that they only take on those with a Leaving Certificate ‘A’ in the subject or a qualified teacher. What’s more, many of the grind schools do not allow online booking.
“We make it really easy for people to find the very best tutors in a short period of time wherever they are in the country,” adds Orla. “We’re like no other grind school. Our service is unique.”
Two months after it launched, TutorHQ already has over 700 tutors located throughout Ireland. What’s more, it’s being used by hundreds of students. Orla and Sean have now set their sights on the UK and are hoping to expand their business there soon.
Tools to help Start-ups succeed
“We couldn’t have done it so far without the help of AIB,” explains Orla. “Their support and MyBusinessToolkit have been invaluable.”
Out of the five tools in MyBusinessToolkit, the account management tool Sage has proved the most useful to Orla. “It allowed me to see exactly how I was spending money,” she says. She also found Receipt Bank useful. “It’s much easier than filing receipts, in particular when you’re dealing with a lot of them,” she says. “I would highly recommend MyBusinessToolkit for anyone starting a new business. It has been a major factor in our success so far.”
Need help getting your business off the ground?
MyBusinessToolkit is available exclusively to AIB business customers* for 30 days free.
Sign up now on www.mybusinesstoolkit.ie or call into your local branch to find out more.
* To be eligible for the offer: Any new or existing business customer opening an AIB Business Current Account. Offer applies to the full bundle (Receipt Bank, Plan HQ, Sage One, bOnline and MozyPro). 30 days free (starting from when you sign-up either online or in branch). After the free period, it’s just €15 per month – a saving of 80% compared to purchasing directly from service providers. No obligation – customers can choose to cancel their monthly subscription at any time.
Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.
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