Ten bits of advice I have given to my kids

I see it as a part of being a ‘good dad’ to give your kids fatherly advice from time to time, to  make sure that they stay on the right track.

Here is my list:

1. Be happy. In your home life and at work. Love and be loved. Life is short, so make the most of it. If you are unhappy, change it. Know when things are rescuable and have the sense to work out when they are not.

2. Get good friends. Ones that stick with you through the years. Be a good listener and take time to meet up with them.

3. Always give it 100% whatever you are doing. That goes for work and your social life – you will get more out of it, honestly. Be patient. Always do what’s right. Don’t stand by and watch when the wrong thing happens.

4. Care about what is happening in the world. Think about politics – don’t be tribal about it, think about your values and vote for the party that most closely matches them. Always vote, even if it’s for the least bad candidate.

5. Treat education like a long term quest for knowledge, not a short-term goal to get that first leg up in life.

6. Try not to do anything stupid. Think twice before you do something that you might regret later. Don’t take that as an excuse not to push the boundaries a bit. Stay within the law.

7. Enjoy sport. Find something you can do and are passable at – and stick with it. Pick a sports team, follow their results and watch matches when you can. Care about what happens to them.

8. Treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself. Care about people with less going for themselves than you.

9. Be accepting of other people’s opinions and beliefs.

10. Family comes first. Take time to listen to them. Take time to be with them. Try not to get too frustrated with them.

Finally, make some time for your parents in their dotage – remember I was like you once, and I wasn’t perfect either.

Online tutoring in the UK: the current state of play

As some of my readers already know, I am the co-founder of Tutorhub, the specialist online tutoring website based in Bristol, UK.

I last posted back in September 2011, about the emerging web businesses starting to focus on the online tutoring market in the UK. Back then there were a few businesses: Home Tutoring Online, Brightspark, Dizeo, Maths Doctor, Exam Fox, Live Tutor and Meteor Online Learning. So in the intervening period, what has changed?

Well quite alot actually. We have some new entrants:

  1. Itutormaths, part of Nelson Thornes (along with Bond 11+), specialising in maths and focusing on group learning online
  2. Mytutor, part of AQA, focusing on maths and english
  3. Tute, which is offering homework help and online tutoring

There have been a number of changes. Exiting from the market are Brightspark, Home Tutoring Online, Dizeo and MyTutor. Whilst Exam Fox are now the Tutor Crowd.

We at Tutorhub have been working hard at working out what customers want and how best to achieve product : market fit. The obvious question, is has anyone else ‘nailed’ the customer proposition, to which the honest answer I think is ‘no’ – this is a classic ‘new product in a new market’.

There are three things that I believe we all have to get over.

1. There is a perception amongst some customers that online tutoring ‘must be’ in some way inferior to traditional face to face tutoring. We have conducted extensive research that demonstrates that this is every bit as effective. We will be expanding on this in due course.

2. The online tutoring technology isn’t particularly appealing to students or tutors, based on generic meeting based third party platforms. There are no compelling product delivery platforms out there at the moment in my opinion, which is why we will be launching a new online tutoring platform soon.

3. Pricing is a barrier. People expect online tutoring to be cheaper than regular face to face tutoring. The Tutorhub platform shows a hourly price range not that dissimilar to face to face tutoring. This does not create a compelling reason to swap from a face to face to an online tutor. Tute’s £5 for 45 minutes online tutoring, is a move in the right direction I think.

So what do I see the next 12 months bringing? I think four things:

  1. This is currently an embryonic market place, and I expect to see increased interest and take up. We are further away from a tipping point than I might like, but things are moving in the right direction
  2. New business models, clearly focusing on customer needs and expectations – what currently flies in the UK will be different to that which is working in India or the US. Once the offer is proven in the UK, then it can be rolled out internationally
  3. Differentiation based on delivering superior levels of customer service
  4. More new entrants and more exits

This is an interesting market, which I think will develop and grow. I think that we at Tutorhub have the plan to deliver the most compelling customer offer – watch this space.