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It has been an exciting first half a year of fast paced development: the teaching community has grown rapidly, with 208 music teachers, across a wide range of different instruments, joining the website during those first six months. We have had student enquiries coming through as well, the first ones coming in as early as the 26th March, with consistent enquiries coming through Drum Lessons Leicester and Guitar Lessons Manchester, far more than I could have hoped for in what remains an incredibly early stage of development.The website too is able to interact with users from social media in a way that is entirely new for me, both as it is able to service users located anywhere in the UK, as well as music teachers wanting to use their profile pages to promote themselves via their own social media streams. This inadvertently helps to promote the websites as a whole, generating more enquiries for the wider teacher community every time a profile or article is shared. I always feel launching a new project is a little like being at an airport, you wait around for ages for your flight, constantly checking your passport and tickets, finally board the plane and slowly start taxiing on the runway, the plane then stops, with the engines gearing up for full throttle before you start a very bumpy acceleration down the runway we are certainly at this stage now, accelerating down the runway and believe me it is bumpy and uncomfortable, yet filled with the hope that we will get up into the air and the project will take off.As soon as I feel that we have left ground, continuing the metaphor(!), I am incredibly keen to develop a teacher community area on the website similar to the one that have developed and cultivated on the MGR Music Tuition platform with 150 teachers I work with directly. This community area could be ten times bigger, and therefore ten times more useful, for the teachers within the community providing peer support, ideas around best practise as well as a space to network and engage with one another in what can be quite an isolating job. This would see the database become somewhat of a dedicated social network for music teachers, where they can interact both with students and other teachers on a national level. My plan over the next six months is to take it to a place were the website has a micro community of engaged active teachers using the platform, with around 500 teachers in the broader community. I will keep you updated how it goes!Over the time that I have ran MGR Music Tuition Ltd, since launching it during my first year studying at the University of Exeter in 2009, I have always been limited to generating enquiries for music teachers located in large cities across four instruments guitar, singing, piano and drums. This restriction put a top limit to the size of the teaching community that I could grow, indeed, as of 2017 we are almost at full capacity in terms of teaching community I can grow within the UK.This is why over the last 12 months I have been so keen to develop a national platform to enable me to generate enquiries for teachers located anywhere in the UK, across all possible instrument types.Music Teacher is a new national database of active music teachers located throughout the UK and Ireland.Having researched a lot of the other music teacher databases in the UK, I have found that they lack some of the critical information that can help inform students as to whether the teacher is suitable to teach them or not. For example information as to whether a teacher holds a valid DBS Check, up to date public liability insurance, or has the necessary qualifications and teaching experience to tutor to a professional level. I made sure, therefore, that all of this information would be included in every one of the tutor profiles featured throughout the website. Students can also leave reviews of teachers which is a fantastic way for teacher to build up an online reputation of providing high quality music tuition, that is then presented back to future students.Leo Wood Music Teacher profile, including a customer review and information about whether she is DBS Checked, has public liability insurance and relevant qualifications.Over the website provides a brilliant platform for me to continue to build a community of music teachers, as well as expand into new locations like Piano Lessons Bristol, Guitar Lessons Leeds and Singing Lessons London. It is also incredibly exciting to be able to grow the community to include saxophone, violin and other music teachers of all instruments including some of the more unusual instruments like ukulele, djembe and cajon. My ambition for the Music Teacher website is to develop it over the next two to five years into the leading platform to find music teachers in the UK and Ireland.Working as the Student Entrepreneur in Residence I met many entrepreneurial students studying at the university, though I knew that these students were only the tip of the iceberg in the numbers of students at the university running successful business. Over the summer I was lucky enough to meet a former student at the University of Exeter, Jamie Brown, who never made it up to the Innovation Centre but had been running a remarkably successful online eCommerce website called Body Massage Shop, selling massage equipment to buyers throughout the EU.After talking a lot about our respective businesses, where it was clear we shared many of the same challenges, gained similar but complimentary skill sets and both motivated to start new business ventures we agreed to explore the possibility of new projects. This experience re inforced my view that connecting entrepreneurs, whether to share business growth issues or to engage in seed idea development, is an integrally worthwhile exercise.As so often is the way one of the reasons Jamie never made it up to the Innovation Centre was as he was so busy running his business he didn have time to take out to explore the opportunities that the Innovation Centre / University of Exeter as a whole had to offer to early stage entrepreneurs. This paradox is something that we are certainly looking to address and if you have a business please do get in touch with the Invocation Centre to network with other business minded students.From our early stage talks, followed by extensive research Jamie and myself decided to start a new business selling home gym equipment, from free weights to treadmills. I am hopeful that with our combined experience of running successful online businesses, and the skills the we have developed during our time operating these startups, that we can create new business model that can grow into something major. I will keep you updated!Home Gyms is a new project started with Jamie Brown a former University of Exeter student.As for an update on the new Wedding Band project I have started receiving a few enquiries starting to come through the website, though I have to say overall I have been slight underwhelmed with the level of traffic coming to the website. It will mean I will have to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate the data I have to explore whether the project as a whole is a viable one. Though we are still in the early stages of the project I had expected a greater flow of traffic to be coming to the website, similar to that of the music tuition websites, however, the data sets are really quiet different in terms of click through rate. So still work to be done on this project I think!As for MGR Music Tuition the business is still continuing to grow rapidly, with recent months seeing new websites like Piano Lessons Belfast, Singing Lessons Rotherham and Singing Lessons York all being launched, or under development. With over 130 teachers both in the UK and Ireland the business has grown significantly during 2016 and with strong growth prospects for 2017 as well though issues around Brexit, Scottish Independence and economic prospects on account of these do add to a more uncertain picture moving forward.Posted under Home Gyms, New ProjectThis post was written by Matthew Rusk on October 26, 2016On the 8th April I was invited to attend the Express Echo 2016 Business Awards, held at Sandy Park in Exeter. With the encouragement of Joe Pearce I had entered an application for MGR Music Tuition to be up for an award, that of Entrepreneur of the Year 2016. I was really pleased that the business was nominated for this award and come the night of the event, where I met loads of amazing individuals, I was totally blown away to actually win the award!Express Echo Business Awards 2016 Matthew Rusk, Entrepreneur of the Year WinnerI have to say it was a huge surprise for me as I hadn ever won an award like this in my life and for the business to be recognised in this way was absolutely amazing for me. As you will see by reading through this blog throughout the years I have written it music tuition is what I am truly passionate about, dedicating most of my life to it so I was really moved to be presented with an award that highlighted this work. I know that I wouldn have been able develop the business so much without the help of a few individuals, namely Joe Pearce the Innovation Centre, Nick Terry (who showed me what real academic work was!), Matt Pocock, Tom Morgan, Mark Hamilton, as well as more widely all the students that I taught guitar to and all the teachers that I have worked with over the last four years.As amazing as it is to reflect on what has happened over the last four years I have to say I am way more excited about the development of new projects during 2016! The most significant of which is the development of a music tuition agency, helping clients to find their perfect wedding band. I will be aiming to launch the website in the mid summer, bringing onboard around 10 bands to launch in three locations, namely Leicester, Bristol and of course the big one London. As mentioned in my previous post it will be a gradual process of identifying the right bands and artists and bringing them onto the website, while at the same time highlighting to this area of the market that there is a dedicated website that lists verified wedding entertainment, as opposed to music agencies that list bands of all abilities and experience levels. I already have some great bands and artist involved in the project, from dedicated 80s tribute band Cube to professional solo singer Gemma Louise Doyle. For me it is really exciting as it is a new area of the music industry, in this case music entertainment meaning that I have plenty to learn if it is going to be a successful project.
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