OJ and Entrepreneur, Alex Duncan (Class of 2020) tells us about her business success
OJ and Entrepreneur, Alex Duncan (Class of 2020) Tells Us About Her Business Success
2020 Head Girl and current University of Cambridge medical student, Alex Duncan, explains her recent venture.
Alex told us that when starting the business she had a clear plan and goal: "The first thing any new business needs is an idea. It then needs a brand and finally a plan. The idea was clear: to be relevant! There is no better teacher than someone who has done it themselves and succeeded. As I had scored top marks in my 11+, I believed that I was qualified to teach the methods I used in the exam. Advertising on local 'Mums' networks and forums I started with a few clients and then quickly people started recommending me. This was such a lift, but I could not do it all on my own, so I now needed the plan and the brand."
Looking around, we can see how Alex has not only cornered the market in 11+ and GCSE tuition, but she has also mastered it. This was not done by chance and was a carefully executed plan to grow, learn and improve. She explained, "over Monday night Mexican, I pitched the idea to my family of starting my brand and business to use kids to teach kids. I had an amazing pool of friends who were on course to achieve 8 and 9s in their GCSEs and had all excelled at the 11+. We were all teenagers, and all could relate to the kids we would be teaching or tutoring. “How about 'The Teenage Tutor?” I said, and the family quickly passed that resolution at the first unofficial Teenage Tutor Board meeting!"
Looking at the Teenage Tutor social platforms and website, the reviews are indeed outstanding. It is evident that her idea for 'kids teaching kids' really works. Parents write wonderful comments about how their own children respond to teenagers who are relevant to them, experienced and friendly.
Alex mentions that she is also passionate about being able to offer tuition to families who wouldn't be able to afford a traditional tutor, some of whom can charge up to £60 per hour.
Taking her GCSEs, then moving schools to Judd, taking four A-Levels, applying for medicine at University and being Head Girl required a new level of time management. "I knew I could not take on all the new clients that were asking for help from Year 1 to 11+ preparation, so I looked to my friends and started sharing out the work to them. I wanted to retain control of the brand and client interaction, while also wanting all of my tutors to be paid fairly. It was important for me to give other students a chance to earn money while not compromising on their own study time." Alex said.
"Being 'Teenage Tutors' was our main selling point, but I still wanted to differentiate from the other agencies in Kent. We decided that the best method of retaining clients is to prove your worth. No one should be locked into block bookings or long-term deals with discounts. So, I made it a fundamental policy that the only commitment was to the lesson you booked, and that was it. Thankfully with over 200 clients now, people love us, love our unique idea, and love the way we teach and interact."
The word quickly spread around the Sixth Form community and becoming part of The Teenage Tutor was a highly in-demand role. But how does Alex decide who to use as tutors?
"I still handpick all our tutors and am so lucky to have been at both TOGS and then Judd for Sixth Form where the talent is unreal. We also have tutors from Sevenoaks School and Weald, who all have to have the right exam results and personality for us."
With a growing business and growing number of tutors and clients, she has had to develop her own procedures and policies to deal with everything that running a business can throw up. It is clear that this talented young lady has impressive business acumen as well as the desire and personality to be a doctor. The skills that she has nurtured and developed in running The Teenage Tutor are all useful skills she can use throughout her life. One such skill is adaptability.
In a market that relies on face to face contact, lockdown threw up new challenges for Alex and her team. Visits to people in their homes were no longer possible, so she spent a lot of time researching Zoom and whiteboard sharing to ensure she could deliver a service that was comparable to previous in-person teaching. Alex tells us that online tuition has really taken off and also allowed the Teenage Tutor team to spread wider than Sevenoaks and Tonbridge.
She also developed a website and had to take on a Deputy Head Tutor to help her manage this new influx of clients due to the closure of schools. Where better to look then her own DNA! She recruited her brother, Kieran, to the business. Kieran is also a Juddian, currently in the Sixth Form and now oversees matters whilst Alex is away at University.
It is clear that Alex is proud of the business and rightly so. "People are always complimentary about our passion for tutoring, and I am so proud of that. I am also proud that I started this venture, and of all of our clients and the hard work they put into every lesson," she said with a smile.
The Teenage Tutor is now in its third year of operation and clearly doing well. It appears to be the first business mentioned when recommendations are sought, and that speaks volumes for what Alex has created. In her first year, she was even a finalist at the Kent Women in Business Awards.
It was so refreshing to talk to such a driven young adult. Alex is clearly enjoying her time in Cambridge and seems to be glad that Kieran has taken some of the pressure off of her. "Kieran does a lot of the daily work now, and I hope it will help him get into the University he falls in love with. For me, I still do a few hours a week, like making sure I try and answer all the emails and messages. I also like checking in with the tutors. I am a little bit of a control freak, so I don't think I could ever give it up completely! It is gratifying to know we have had a role in helping younger students get into their dream secondary school or get the GCSE grade they needed for the next stage in their lives."
For further information, please visit www.theteenagetutor.com or contact Alex or Kieran directly on either Alex@TheTeenageTutor.com or Kieran@TheTeenageTutor.com – they also have some wonderful reviews and resources on their Facebook page @theteenagetutor.
We wish you all the best with this outstanding business venture Alex and Kieran, and of course, with your medical studies. We look forward to seeing you back in the School Room soon!