A Norton entrepreneur has successfully secured a £40,000 Innovate UK grant to grow his on-demand learning and teaching marketplace, Tutorbloc, with the hope of making personalised support more accessible through a unique mobile-first application.

Mercurius Saad (25), who grew up in Norton, is on a mission to make personalised learning accessible to everyone. His company, Tutorbloc, has been awarded a £40,000 grant from Innovate UK which will go towards supporting the growth of the business as pupils look to catch-up on studies following the recent UK school shutdown.

Mercurius launched Tutorbloc in October 2019 after attending a series of free startup business workshops in Darlington delivered by TEDCO Business Support.

Tutorbloc makes the process of finding a personal tutor to supplement school education safe, fast and personalised through a unique mobile-first application. CEO & Co-founder of Tutorbloc, Mercurius comments: “Since launching, we’ve onboarded 2-3 tutors daily which has been incredibly exciting. Tutors that are active on our platform must pass our safeguarding criteria—that means we have verified their identity, checked their qualifications and ensured they hold an Enhanced DBS certificate.

“What makes Tutorbloc special is that we have packed everything both parents and tutors need into one centralised platform: matching, scheduling, payment, video conferencing, two-way ratings and progress tracking. Lessons can be booked either online or in-person and everything takes place in real-time so parents are constantly kept up to date”

“Despite its popularity and value to the school ecosystem, the private tuition sector hasn’t evolved over the years and is in desperate need of innovation. It’s currently unregulated and lacks transparency which has led to several problems such as cash-based transactions and no requirements for safeguarding checks. As schools look to utilise the £350m ‘catch-up’ fund recently announced by the Government, we hope that Tutorbloc can partner with a range of schools to provide access to high-quality tutors; particularly for disadvantaged pupils”.

Mercurius credits the business launch with the quality of early support he received through a series of ERDF-funded workshops held by TEDCO Business Support that help individuals understand the road to success. The range of free-to-access workshops allowed Tutorbloc to go from idea to reality with a robust plan to get the business up and running.

“I was very thankful to TEDCO for pointing me in the right direction when we first started. As a mathematics tutor during my university years, I understood the need for Tutorbloc but the actual realities of running a business were completely new to me,” added Mercurius. “The workshops I attended and the advice I have received from TEDCO business advisor, James Craft, has been invaluable and I’m eternally grateful.”