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Richard Evans' Member Story

At the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) we have been working closely with our members to tell their story. Back in February, we unveiled the winners of the FSB Worldpay UK Business Awards 2016 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. We’ve had the opportunity to speak to a few of the winners from this year, as well as some of the highly commended entries who are taking the small business world by storm.

The Profs is a platform that introduces disenchanted students across the world to inspiring academics, both face to face and online. They also help with professional qualifications for directors who haven’t had the time or inclination to go back to the classroom. 

The founding team consists of Richard Evans – an Economics & Political Sciences graduate. Partner Dr. Leo Evans – a financier from JP Morgan and ex lecturer. Partner, Managing Director and education entrepreneur Rory Curnock-Cook. They work alongside Vyvyan Almond and Joseph Robins who are the Senior Client Manager and Client Manager respectively.

The-Profs

The three founding members set out to revolutionise the education and tutoring landscape. We asked the group what inspired them to start-up The Profs, “We saw a fragmented market, with some students going down the wrong road when it came to finding help with their essays and exams. It was a very dodgy market. We’ve seen students become disenchanted with issues such as fees, larger class sizes, lack of funding and heavy focus on research. This has all lead to the deterioration of education.”

Leo adds, “We’ve injected professionalism – as well as a bit of gloss and glamour. We wanted to be professionals who help professional people. We’ve worked with really good tutors to help them get more work and here we are around twenty months later!”

It was very humble beginnings for The Profs, with the business starting in Richard’s bedroom back in 2014. The idea grew into a profitable business and the three partners formalised everything and became an incorporated company in September of last year.

Richard continues, “We started off in a relatively small way, meeting professors in a tiny coffee shop down the road with tiny tables. We realised it was a little ridiculous and then moved into the offices that we occupy now. Recently we have been discussing how we can accelerate the business and take it world-wide.”

We asked Richard, Rory and Leo what business has been like since their awards commendation,

“Being ‘Highly Commended’ in the Start-Up of the Year category at the FSB Worldpay UK Business Awards 2016 has helped The Profs to reach new unseen heights. In the two months since we won the award we have doubled our business which is fantastic!”

Rory adds, “From a business point of view it allows clients to take us more seriously and we get more professional tutors applying for positions. Universities also see that we’re not a shady company. They know that the high calibre of tutors we work with would never risk their professional reputations, and that we uphold the strictest anti-plagiarism essays. Now we have a stamp of approval from FSB and Worldpay, we’re one of the best start-ups of 2016.”

We also asked The Profs why they joined FSB, “It was a larger agency and member of FSB that recommended the organisation to us. It was really helpful because we were trying to draw up some contracts, we wish we’d found FSB sooner.”

The team work closely with over 350 semi-contracted members of staff and cloud based teams, “We’re really grateful for FSB’s Legal Protection Scheme, working with the self-employed is a really important part of our company. Self-employed VAT is a minefield, and in case something does go wrong, it’s reassuring to know we’ve got FSB behind us. It’s so valuable to our business.

Being a member also solves the stress and worry of getting an email that causes us to panic. We can just pick the phone up and speak to a professional who knows what to do and who is going to help us combat those difficulties.”

Richard continues, “I see so many complaints from small business owners about red tape or making a mistake. We don’t know that anything disastrous is going to happen, but it might. We find ourselves pre-emptively contacting FSB and getting the best advice out there. That really helps! If we were to ever get called up by HMRC, we know that we’ve got records and documents in writing, we can say we did our due diligence. FSB helps to protect us. That helps me sleep easier at night.”

Celebrating-at-the-awards

We also asked The Profs what advice they would give to anyone thinking of setting up their own business, “Firstly, just do it! Make mistakes, make them proudly and learn from them. Secondly, chat to everyone that you can for support. I’ve seen other member stories where they talk about being lonely and needing someone to talk to about running a business, so it’s good to have a FSB community out there.”

We spoke to the highly commended businessmen about their ambitions for the future, “Recently we’ve moved into online tuition. We’ve launched ‘BitPaper’ which is our new software. It’s in-house at the moment and Suzy Ferreira, our business partner, business development advisor and director of ‘BitPaper’, will be rolling it out to over 36,000 tutors in the next few weeks. We’ll be offering a premium service, and at present it is completely free. We’re really excited about it.”

The Profs added, “‘BitPaper’ will teach people how to do online tutoring effectively, as well as how to run an online class. We want to teach tutors how to give professional online classes, using ‘BitPaper’, to help them give the best possible service to their students. Our aspirations now are to really consolidate the tuition market, we’ve got professors, academics and directors of banks on board. We want to get all these people together and show that it’s more than a bit-part job. It’s a professional job and it should be treated so. We’re really excited to tell the world about online tuition!”

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