Getting to know you: Andrew Ground

What do you currently do?

I run, an edTech start-up where parents can find and book tutors from a network of over 6,000 of the best in the country, and for every student who pays we give tutoring to a child who can’t afford it.

What is your inspiration in the business?

I was looking for tutors for my son, Adam. I found it surprisingly hard to find good people, especially those who had experience at coaching pupils for the selective exam which Adam was going for. I’d just finished working at LOVEFiLM where we had built the technology to help people find the most fun movie for their Saturday night and it seemed crazy that this concept hadn’t made it to education; as a society we had amazing technology and services for TV entertainment but no choice, transparency, data or services for finding help for your children.

Everyone I spoke to felt the same, and within a short time I was able to pull together a fantastic founding team to build Tutorfair. Our goal was simple: to make it easy for everyone to find the best available tutors, and to do it in a socially responsible way.

Who do you admire?

There are lots of fantastic entrepreneurs in London who have revolutionised industries, and I am very lucky to know a few of them. William Reeve, who was one of the architects of LOVEFiLM, has successfully launched several ventures, Arnaud Bertrand set up Housetrip from his flat and now hundreds of thousands of properties from all over the world are listed on the site, while I am a great fan of Ryan Notz at Mybuilder too – he has a real passion for his product. They are all people with great ideas, who have actually made them happen. I never get tired of spending an evening with these guys talking about how to improve things and I am incredibly grateful for all the help and support I have had in getting Tutorfair going.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

We started out with an outsourced development team. Since the website was crucial for us, we kept trying to get the details right. However, the company we used had their own business to run, and we were a tiny part of this, so our motivations were not aligned. If you are setting up a tech or web business try to do as much in-house as possible. You need your team to run your core business.

What defines your way of doing business?

I sometimes describe myself as the experimental psychologist of marketing. I’m not the kind of person who thinks they know all the answers to start with. Instead

I enjoy setting up experiments to see what really works, and see how people respond to products and promotion. One of the fun things about internet businesses is the great data you get, and how quickly you get it. At Sainsbury’s I spent ages getting everything arranged to measure the sales impact of advertising and other marketing. However, at LOVEFiLM we had much smaller budgets but the data was far easier to get hold of and manage yourself. This is important, as when you understand the results, you can make much better decisions.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Do something you are passionate about, and take advice with a pinch of salt. At LOVEFiLM we had some lovely quotes from video rental experts who said what we were doing would never work. Yet later on, we were still growing when all the traditional business had packed up and left the sector. It was just the same coming into tutoring. The thing I love about Tutorfair is that we are helping children succeed, and in particular those we help via our charity where I feel we can change their world. If the whole business came to nothing – at least we will have already made a lasting difference to the life chances of thousands of people who deserved a break.