A Return to Guitar Teaching

Covid has hit the music industry hard. The music teachers I work with often pursue portfolio careers in music, meaning that they combine working in function bands, performing in their own original projects, working as session musicians with teaching music to their students. Almost every part of that portfolio came to a halt during lockdown, with performances curtailed and creative projects put on hold until members could meet up again.

Teaching music has been fairly resilient, with teachers offering everything from Zoom Drum Lessons to Skype Guitar Lessons, keeping their students engaged with online learning resources. Teachers within the community itself has shown fantastic support to one another, producing articles and advice on how to move teaching online – for example, one music teacher provided an incredibly helpful breakdown of how to use Zoom to teach online lessons, comparing that to Skype and other similar platforms. It is of real testament to the wider community of music teachers that they are able to come together during times like this to support one another.

This month marks hopefully the start of returning back to teaching, with many music teachers across the country exploring how they can begin to hold in-person lessons again. The guitar teachers I have spoken with in recent weeks are really looking forward to teaching in-person again, everything from being able to crank the volume up on the amp to really feel the power of a power chord, to giving their students the opportunity to being to consider to perform again. After all how many bands that would have formed over the last 12 months simply haven’t as there has been very little opportunity to. Those guitar teachers who enjoy bringing musicians of a similar age together to practice and perform as a group can begin to hope that they will be able to start that process again later in 2021, all being well.

The restarting of guitar lessons is also met with a reflection that learning a musical instrument is certainly not a necessity of life. Indeed, the cost of lessons are a relatively expensive hobby and one that when economic times are hard are quickly cut from an individuals budget. It is certainly on music teachers minds the impact of lockdown on the economy as a whole, as that will determine whether there will be new guitar students coming through the door in the next few months, or whether as things open up actual people are reluctant to commit, for fear of another wave or from the economic impact making music lessons a luxury that is not possible at this time. Only time will tell and I am very hopeful for the music teachers that we will see a strong bounce back this year, returning to more normal times for all.

Posted under Music Teacher

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on April 15, 2021

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Why Zoom Saved Us

For so many businesses lockdowns have absolutely decimated their income streams, preventing their customers from attending their premises to purchase the service or products that they provide. In April 2020 I was very concerned that the numbers of lessons taught by the music teachers in our teaching community would take a nose-dive right down to basically nothing, as the entire business had be designed for in-person lessons.

However, I had underestimated the desire, ability and determination that the teacher community had in regard to moving their lessons and their students online within just a small numbers of weeks. To put it another way, the ability for music students to take lessons on Zoom, Skype, Teams and other platforms saved us as a business and enabled us to continue to keep going during the last year.

Of course, not all of the music teachers in our community moved online – for some, the instrument made it challenging to move online. Drum teachers, for example, have had a more challenging time teaching online compared to guitar teachers. For others, the way they taught didn’t suit to online teaching, some singing teachers are a good example of this as they focus a lot on addressing the way that a student’s posture, neck tension and stance impact their voice – something that they just couldn’t translate to the online environment. Finally, for some teachers, the technical abilities required to move online were just a step too far and they felt they couldn’t achieve the results they wanted from a technical point of view.

Nonetheless, this is certainly a smaller number of the teachers within the community than I would have expected prior to lockdown. There are teachers who had previously told me they would never teach online, that once lockdown came moved online and have been teaching really successfully (and dare I say it, enjoying it!). The numbers of online music lessons enquiries have massively increased, perhaps unsurprisingly, during lockdown – creating an opportunity for music teachers to offer lessons to students that are located across the world.

This has enabled students to access incredibly high-quality music teachers that perhaps they wouldn’t be able to in their area, as well as enabling music teachers to do things they never thoughts possible before – for example, move house and retain students in large numbers or consider going on tour and taking students with them virtually. From all of this it is clear that a music business like the one that I run required an online music lesson strategy and we are delighted to announce a new part of the platform dedicated to online music lessons and the teachers within our community who are able to teach them.

It will be really interesting to see the legacy of lockdowns and whether students will continue to enquire in such high numbers for online lessons or whether Zoom lessons – of all types – will be consigned to “that is so 2020”! Only time will tell, but as teachers we have learned so much about teaching via Zoom and I can say that had this not happened then I am sure that many businesses would no longer be with us.

Posted under MGR Music, Music Teachers

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on March 21, 2021

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Planning for a Rainy Day

In the business world, and the working world, we’ve all heard the saying “for a rainy day”. This typically means being prepared for when things are bad.

A rainy day is usually considered by be a period of unemployment, low workloads or a period of poor health, but is anyone ever prepared for a global pandemic?

As we move out of one of the toughest years many small businesses have, and probably will ever, face, we must consider how we can prevent hardship in future days.

Many small business owners simply cannot go a year without working. It’s the lifeblood of their existence. By this point you’ve already put everything on the line to pursue your passion. You’ve turned your dream into your career. Now we’re all fighting just to stop it slipping away.

Let’s explore three main talking points that could potential help you the next time we see a little rain in the world.

1. Broaden Your Reach – Embrace the Internet

If you’re a local store that offers products to your local community, perhaps an eCommerce option would help add a little safety to your future plans. If you rely on selling locally that’s perfectly fine. However, in the event of current events happing again in another form, your local community may not be able to sustain your business. Get yourself online and make your product available to the wider world.

2. Conduct Business Virtually

If you’re a service provider such as a music teacher, therapist, nutritionist, trainer or anyone else who guides people and helps them realise their potential, then you’ll know that being in a room with someone is essential to conduct business… or is it? These days with services like Zoom and Skype, your clients can be anywhere in the world at anytime and you can still deliver the same level of service you would face to face.

3. Put a Little Aside

This is easier said than done, but if this year has taught us anything, it’s the need to be ready. Try to put a little extra money aside each month just in case you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation again. It doesn’t have to be huge amounts, but a small amount on a regular basis adds up. This can really help keep you going in tough times.

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Singing Lessons Oxford

It brings me great pleasure to welcome Zoe Mace onboard as the person heading up our Singing Lessons Oxford page.

Zoe has done a huge amount of charity work as a singer, including recording three classical charity albums which raised in excess of £200,000 for various children’s charities.

I know Zoe is going to be a fantastic teacher and our base of students are going to love lessons with her. I want to welcome her onboard and I look forward to seeing her career grow.

Posted under mgrmusic.com

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on October 25, 2020

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Socially Distanced Performance

As the UK prepares to enter another wave of potential lock downs, the hospitality industry is once again dealt a blow.

Venues are still not able to host regular performances by musicians, comedians and performers. Theatres still face closures and bars are unable to host their weekly singers.

Let’s talk about socially distanced gigs. Can these be a viable way of reviving the live music industry or are they too far removed from what we expect from a live music experience.

The pros of a socially distanced gig are:

Performers can Perform: This is a big one. Over the last 6 months many performers who depend on their gig based income will be able to take the stage again and perform their music. This includes artists who write their own music and working bands who perform at weddings, functions and bars.

Smaller audience sizes mean more intimate performances: Imagine getting to see your favourite band of all time, but only 50 other people can attend. That makes it a very intimate and personal experience. You could be up close and personal with an artist that you might normally see with a crowd of 1000 plus.

Venues, staff and technical crew get to keep on working: We’ve all seen the massive knock on effect Covid-19 has had on the behind the scenes staff. It’s easy to remember that musicians and performers have lost work, but don’t forget about the sound guys, the lighting guys, the riggers, the stand hands. Socially distanced gigs allow them to get back to doing what they love too.

Now let’s look at some potential cons:

Reduced audience numbers means less ticket sales: If you rely on your income from performing, then it may not be a reliable income stream with these measures. You’d have to perform to smaller numbers which means less ticket sales. The only way to keep your earnings up would be to raise ticket prices, but the major risk there is in alienating fans. You don’t want to price yourself out.

Venues may struggle to cover costs: Venues have overheads. Staff costs, security costs, running costs. Many grassroots venues work with local talent to work out payment deals where the venue get their costs covered from the bar/door and a little of the profit goes to the performers. Can venues still earn this additional income with smaller numbers in attendance?

The feel just won’t be the same: Many musicians live for that feeling of stepping out onto a stage and feeling the packed rooms energy. Will this energy still be present with a socially distanced crowd?

This topic is going to be a big talking point over the next 6 months as musicians and performers all around the country try to find a way to keep their show on the road. Do you think it’s possible to successfully put on a socially distanced gig and is this potentially the future of the arts industry?


Bass Lessons Greenwich

Here is a quick business update from mgrmusic.com.

We’ve just teamed up with the fantastic bass teacher Flo Moore who will be heading up the Bass Lessons Greenwich page.

Flo is a graduate of the Royal Academy and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, The Barbican, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and other prestigious venues.

I look forward  to hearing from students who get to share the experience and knowledge of Flo in her lessons and I’m excited to see her success grow.

Posted under MGR Music

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on October 20, 2020

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Is Social Media Important for Music Teachers?

A question many teachers struggle with is “Is social media important?”.

Social media is a fantastic way to connect people. For teachers it is potential to reach out direct to your audience. It allows you to promote your business directly to potential students.

With so many people living their lives and making important decisions through social platforms, it’s no surprise that the way businesses are marketing themselves has changed.

The three big social media networks are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Each of these platforms offers a unique way to connect with students and potential students alike.


Facebook

On Facebook you can set up a page specifically for your business. On this page you can list all your business details and you can also share content such as text, videos and images. This content can be educational based, but you can also use it to share information such as changes to your business, or articles you think will be of value to your students.

Facebook also has a fantastic Ad Manager program that allows you to create paid-for advertisements for your business. Using this platform you can create adverts that tailor them to specific demographic within a specific radius of your business.

Instagram

Instagram is more image and video based. You can post images and 60 second videos. For music teachers, this is especially useful if you want to communicate short educational messages or show people what you’re doing. Instagram is a very personal social media and creates a sense of community with the followers and the business.

Videos are useful to show your ability at a musician. This can really help attract potential students.

If you run a Facebook ad, it will also be run on Instagram as the services are both owned by Facebook.

Twitter

Twitter is great as a customer service platform. It allows you to exchange short messages with followers. You may not have much luck with longer educational content here, but if you want to reach out to someone quickly and efficiently, Twitter is a great place to start.

Twitter is also a great platform for you as a teacher to connect with other entities in the business world. It allows you to reach out to companies or organizations you might want to built rapport with.


So as you can see, social media can be useful for music teachers. It allows you to create a presence online and a place to engage with and connect with your existing students and potential future students.

The advertising capabilities of social media are growing from strength to strength on an almost daily basis and right now, they’re some of the cheapest ads you can purchase.

If you are a music teacher but you’re not on the social media train, you should consider jumping onboard and connecting with an audience that’s out there just waiting for you to come along and inspire them.


Trumpet Lessons Swansea

I’m very excited to bring Neil Southgate onboard with mgrmusic.com as the teacher for our Trumpet Lessons Swansea page. We haven’t featured many trumpet players but as we grow into this area, it’s very exciting to work with someone of Neil’s calibre.

Neil is a very active musician who plays with a popular Soul group and he holds a Masters in Musicology from Cardiff University.

He has been teaching for over 6 years and I am thrilled that Neil will be sharing this knowledge and expertise with mgrmusic.com students.

Posted under Business Advice

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on October 20, 2020

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Make Your Teaching Space Safe

If you’re a music teacher and you’re able to resume teaching, either from your own music studio or from a school premises, you have to consider how you’re going to make this as safe as possible.

There is plenty of advice out there from the UK Government on what measures need to be in place. You can use this information to start to form an idea of how to ensure the lessons you offer are as safe as possible.

Let’s look at a few safety measures and discuss how they could benefit or hinder a music lesson:

Face Coverings: The main advice from the Government is around the wearing of face coverings. It is possible to conduct music lessons while wearing a face covering. This reduces the transmission risk of the virus and keeps you both safe. Many students will probably be more than happy to comply with wearing a face covering, especially if you work from a home studio or a professionally owned studio. The potential negatives are around communication. Some students may find it harder to hear things you say while wearing a face covering, so you may need to reinforce some points.

Hand Sanitizer: Hand sanitizer is a great way to reduce risk and it should be essential in any teaching area, especially where instruments are shared. The downside is that for people who play stringed instruments such as guitars, hand sanitizer can tenderise the fingertips.

Social Distancing: This is the easiest one to implement if you have the space to do so. If your teaching space allows it, you can simply set up slightly further apart than you usually would. There are not really any potential negatives to this, other than minor inconveniences such as sharing sheet music would be made more difficult due to sitting further away from the music stand.

Online Sessions: Many teachers have taken to the internet to maintain their schedules. If you are in a position to do so with certain students, it might be worth exploring if Skype/Zoom lessons are suitable. You’d need to make sure you both have a stable internet connection. It will change the dynamic of the lesson so it won’t work for everybody.

Plexiglass Screens: If social distancing in your teaching space is tricky or not an option, perhaps looking into a plexiglass screen divider would be beneficial, similar to those you now see in supermarkets and bars. This would allow you to be a little closer to your student but still safely protected by the screen. This, combined with face coverings would really improve the safety levels.

As you can see, there are a lot of options to consider when it comes to teaching in a safe and compliant way. It’s very important to keep checking for the latest advice and keep up to speed on all the latest suggestions for keeping you and your clients safe during this time.


Singing Lessons Wimbledon

I am very excited to announce that we have just started working with the fantastic Melissa Toy who will be taking on our Singing Lessons Wimbledon page.

Melissa is a fantastic singer and teacher. She has over 10 year experience and teachers across all genres. She is a qualified Voice Specialist and holds a first-class BA (Hons) in Creative Musicianship.

I am very excited to see how Melissa career grows and I look forward to hearing from students who benefit from her experience and expertise.

Posted under MGR Music

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on October 13, 2020

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Moving Your Teaching Business Online

Many teachers all around the country are being forced to rethink and restructure their business models. Covid-19 has thrown a giant, pandemic shaped spanner in the works and it’s affecting out industry on so many levels.

If you are a teacher as part of a music school, or you teach in a range of local schools, you may find that you are currently able to work as normal under the guidelines providing you adhere to the protective measures set out.

However, the hardest hit has been the private tutors. Those teachers that work from their own home studios or the houses of their students.

The teachers that deliver one on one lessons anywhere, anytime. Their livelihood has changed and could remain in a state of limbo for some time.

So, what can teachers do to help keep business flowing.

Embrace the internet.

We can now teach our students over various video call programs like Skype, Zoom or Facetime. If you are new to this world, it can seem daunting, but don’t worry. It does not have to be.

Teaching online has never been easier to get started with. You just need a few simple things to get started:

Access to a Video Calling Platform

You can download Skype or Zoom for free. If you have Facebook or an iOS device you can also video call contacts that way. For teachers who don’t want to use personal profiles, you can stick with Skype and Zoom.

They both offer you a range of options such as screen sharing, screen annotations, a chat feed and more.

A Good Quality Webcam

You’ll need a good webcam for your student to get the best visual experience. HD webcams are very affordable and readily available. Try to get one that works in 1080p resolution.

An Audio Interface

An audio interface is a USB device that allows you to connect speakers and a microphone to your computer. You can also connect guitars directly. A good interface will allow you to have microphones set up so your student can hear you and your guitar. Built in microphones to laptops and webcams work fine, but they aren’t always the best quality.

A Stable Internet Connection

Video calling can use a lot of bandwidth so a stable connection is vital to preventing dropouts during video calls. If you run off a WiFi network, consider a cabled connection. You can connect your PC or laptop straight to your router with an ethernet cable. If this is not an option, perhaps you work from a room far form the router, consider a WiFi Range extender.

This is a product that plugs into a wall socket and boosts the wifi signal.


Bass Lessons Colchester

Here is a small business update for this week to round topic off. I am thrilled to start working with Craig Tyler who will be leading the way with our Bass Lessons Colchester page.

Craig is a great teacher and musician and I am excited to see him grow his career.

He has already done a lot of high profile work in the music industry including performing at Royal Ascot, The FA Cup Winners Party and the 21st World Scout Jamboree infront of HRH the Duke of Cambridge and 50,000 spectators.

Posted under Business Advice

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on September 29, 2020

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Business Partnerships

Let’s talk about networking and the power of community in business. Every business you see has links with other companies. There intertwining threads through business are the veins that carry the company’s lifeblood. Can one company exist without another? Sure, but it does help to have connections.

Building relationships in business is a powerful thing and it should never be overlooked. When it comes to relationship business it’s often worth remembering that you aren’t building a relationship with the company as an entity, but with an individual (or individuals) within that business. These relationships should be viewed almost like your friendship circles. The people within the companies that you have relationships with as essentially your “business friends”.

It’s these close-knit relationships that allow you to maintain a great working relationship.

Never underestimate the importance of face-to-face networking. This is often a great way to get started with building relationships. I find that cold-email or cold-calling a company that you want to work with is often met with barriers, because to that company, you don’t have a face.

If you really want to network and get to know the people behind companies, get out there and meet them. Whatever your industry, check online and on social media for any networking events. It is often possible to see which companies will be attending, and sometimes even the person at that company.

If you feel you have a relationship worth building and you can offer them something in return, you can make it your aim to meet the person on the other end of that potential partnership. Things will blossom more in a face-to-face setting.

The digital age allows us to stay in touch electronically, and any face to face relationships that you build on, you can follow up with emails shortly after to keep that contact up. What is your business and what sort of companies do you think you would be able to form a beneficial partnership with? Make a list and get out there and shake some hands.


Now for a business update, we’ve recently taken on a new teacher in Liverpool heading up our Piano Lessons Liverpool website. Her name is Sophie Leaver and she is a multi-instrumentalist who graduated with a First in Music from the University of Liverpool. She also holds a Masters Degree in Music Performance and Pedagogy which she obtain in September 2018.

Sophie is an accomplished pianist, singer and guitar player and has performed at a range of festivals, sporting events and even on the ITV series Victoria.

Sophie started teaching in 2017 in New York before moving her teaching business to the Merseyside area of Liverpool.

Posted under mgrmusic.com

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on September 3, 2019

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Continuous Systems Improvement

Off the back of me discussing some of the lessons learned from the recent spam attack, I took the opportunity to make some important updates and implemented some new procedures to increase security and also improve a lot of other administrative processes along the way.

One thing that I’ve recently improved is the websites database systems. Due to the nature of the business, we receive a high volume of enquiries from potential students all around the UK. The unfortunate nature of dealing with high volume in a small business is that sometimes things could get missed, or as I’ve also seen, technology plays a part in the item not arriving with us even though the customer has submitted it.

I’ve made some back-end updates to the website which now provide a timestamp to all submitted entries. This means, even if an email physically does not arrive in our inbox, there will be a marker of this in the database. This means if a customer contacts us to say they got in touch but did not hear back, I can simply retrieve the entry from the database and deal with it right away. This saves us extra time and saves the customer from having to resubmit their request.

These increased records will improve our overall efficiency and also free up some all-important time to work on other aspects of the business too.

I have also made some important updates to our phone service which now provides each locational webpage with its own local phone number. This allows us to retrieve voicemails much faster and send them to the local teachers in a timelier manner. Previously the voicemails all collected in a central repository with no location indicator.


Quick business update, we’ve recently taken on a new singing teacher based in Newcastle that will be heading up our Singing Lessons Newcastle. We are so pleased to welcome Jay Hepple onboard to share his knowledge and experience with students.

Jay is not only a fantastic singing teacher, but he also performs up and down the UK on a regular basis with his band Groove Allstars at weddings and functions. You may also have heard him sing as part of SoulTown at one of the many Haven Holiday Parks around the country. He’s even sung on stage with Take That on their recent Greatest Hits Tour as part of their choir. Pretty cool huh?

Jay holds a 1stClass BA Honours in the Music Industry from the Academy of Music and Sound in Gateshead.

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This post was written by Matthew Rusk on September 3, 2019

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Spam Email Attack

So this week’s business update here, and this time it’s got a valuable lesson attached. Recently, some of the mgrmusic.com website contact forms fell victim to a spam attack. This type of attack is a bot-based attack which doesn’t directly affect the website, but the bot uses the contact form as a proxy to send emails out to multiple recipients.

These types of attacks work based on the contact form replying to the submitter with an auto reply. For instance, if you typed in the body of the text “Win £100” and entered your email in the field, our system would generate an auto reply to you and a copy of the text you submitted. The bot had used out system to email spam to a substantial number of emails, as we pay per email it also incurred a quite significant bill. Indeed, it was a bit of a perfect storm that highlighted a security vulnerability in our systems that needed resolving.

So, what did we learn? I mentioned last time that I was working on some integration with ReCapcha and we have rebuilt our contact forms from the ground up to prevent this happening in future. I have also been keen to increase security across the business, adding in 2 factor authentication on all business email logins and will look to do the same with websites. I would recommend that you do the same as well for your start-up, after all the cost of getting it wrong can literally put you out of business – no matter what size your company is.

One aspect of this that I really want to share with you is that as business owners we abstract business problems away from clients – it is part of the service we provide by default. Certain things should never make it to the client view of the business as it’s not something they should ever have to worry about when using your service.

In my case, I don’t want my teachers to be concerned with web security or the websites running as planned, but due to this attack I had to take various websites offline for 24 hours to increase security measures which placed this issue in the view of my teachers. This broke that invisible shield that you as a business owner abstract away from the client, suddenly teachers wanted to know why their websites were down and what was the cause of the attack – in other words the client became concerned with a business issue.

A good example of this scenario is in recent years when KFC changed suppliers and various branches ran out of chicken due to a change in suppliers. This meant, instead of the customers arriving and just using the service they expect (ordering their bucket of chicken!), they were then aware of issues with the supply chain. Not a great look for the company, after all you just want your customers to be thinking “wow this is great chicken”.

It is these moments, often of very high stress that you see how your company can cope with a setback and then how you can improve your systems/processes by resolving it in such a way that it could never happen again. This is what I hope that we achieved this week.


Piano Lessons Nottingham

Here is a small business update to round this off, we’ve recently started working with the fantastic Chloe Leak who will be the teacher on our Piano Lessons Nottingham page. Chloe brings many years of experience along with her and we are very excited to have her on board.

Chloe obtained her music teaching diploma in 2017 and knew from the age of 10 she wanted a career in music. She was committee to playing piano from a young age and now wants to share that knowledge and experience with students in the city of Nottingham

Nottingham has a thriving music scene with lots of new bands and great venues all around so it’s wonderful to see a new generation of musicians coming through under Chloe’s guidance.

I look forward to seeing Chloe’s business grow and grow.

Posted under mgrmusic.com

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on August 24, 2019

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GDPR / Guitar Lessons Leeds

Continuing my weekly updates on what it is like to run a small online business, you can check out below what I have been working on this week (7th – 12th May 2018):

GDPR

The upcoming introduction of GDPR was the main focus of this week. I was contacted by many of the music teachers I work with about what the introduction of GDPR meant for them, as well as communicating with entrepreneurs that I know to assess how best to approach GDPR compliance. Like most of us during the last few weeks I have been inundated with emails from larger corporations explaining how GDPR would impact the way I received communications from them.

This has sharpen the minds of many smaller businesses to assess what they need to do to be GDPR compliant by the 25th May 2018. Adapting to new legislation as a small business is certainly nothing new, all entrepreneurs at some stage will face this challenge. Often the real challenge is understanding what the legislation means and how it specifically relates to your business/industry. A significant portion of my week was assessing the GDPR’s impact within the music education industry, drawing together my thoughts for other music teachers to read: GDPR Guide for Music Teachers.

Having spoken with many different entrepreneurs over the last week about the GDPR their processes have been similar to mine. Assessing what they currently have in place in regard to securing the data they collect. Examining how and why they are collecting this data. Researching and seeking professional advice to ensure that they will comply by the 25th May. A good article to get you started on what you need to know as a small business about the GDPR can be found here: What is GDPR for Small Business (SimplyBusiness.co.uk)

Guitar Lessons Leeds

I was delighted to launch the second “music hub” this week in Leeds, UK. Based in Leeds the music school will be run by Kieran Gunter, an experienced professional guitar teacher in Leeds. This marks an important stage in the expansion process for 2018, with Kieran being an ideal guitar teacher to bring onboard to support this. I have been so impressed by his enthusiasm for all forms of guitar music, from classical guitar right through to modern genres.

His holistic approach to teaching, ensuring that students learn the many different aspects of how to play the guitar; from helping students understand the rhythmic aspects of music to teaching them exercises that build finger strength. With Kieran as Head Guitar Teacher at this local music hub I am really excited to see how it develops as a local music school with our support.

This week also saw the start of a potentially interesting relationship with the Trinity College exam board, in relation to their Rock & Pop exams. As our music teaching community are are mainly focused on teaching “contemporary” music styles, due to the high student interest in modern genres, there might be some really exciting opportunities to explore with Trinity College.

Posted under Music Teachers

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on May 12, 2018

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MGR Music Progress Update & Guitar Lessons Manchester

Progress Update – Introduction

It has been over six-months since I wrote my last progress update on the development of the national music teacher database. As we are edging towards the summer again I thought I would write a group of mini-blog updates on how everything is develop in real time. This will give entrepreneurial students a real insight into how businesses develop day by day, week by week. I have found from first hand experience that while progress can feel slow on any one day, by making multiple good business decision overtime that progress is multiplied dramatically. Conversely, the consequences of a poor decision can significantly impact speed of growth, especially when the pace of growth increases.

In this mini-series of blog posts I will take you inside each of the key decisions made each week, providing insight into why these conclusions have been reached and analysing the results of these decisions. By doing this I hope to take you with me in my entrepreneurial journey. Enjoy!

Think, Try, Do – News

One exciting development away from the business is that I will be working with Emily, Katie and David of the Think, Try, Do team on a new project that will be released later this year. The project will focus on interviewing 50 current and former University of Exeter student entrepreneurs. It will not only explore their “success stories” but also examine the motivations behind their entrepreneurialism. Asking some of the more philosophical questions behind what really makes a successful entrepreneur and how can we help develop other students with this mind set. There will be more on this to follow in due course, with the first interview of Matt Morley, of Savvy, having been the first to be interviewed for the project.

MGR Music – Six Months of Development

In my last post (August 2017), I talked a lot about trying to get the national music teacher database off the ground. Comparing it to a plane taxiing along the runway, not fully knowing if when the plane stopped and the throttle was applied the plane would take off. I also talked a lot about my determination to make the platform into an online community of music, using it as almost a “Facebook for music teachers”.

Nearly six months on it is really interesting to reflect on this (part of the reason why I write this blog!). Firstly, I am pleased to say that platform has taken off, developing as a place where students can find highly-qualified music teachers in their location. Interestingly, having trialed the platform during early 2018 as a “social media” platform for music teachers, I ended moving away from that idea completely.

Two reasons became self-evident; firstly, put simply music teachers didn’t use it (or want to use it) as a social media platform. While we have forums on mgrmusic.com that are active, music teachers continue to prefer to post questions and seek advice in our Music Teacher’s Group on Facebook. As much as I wanted our music teacher community to engage with the platform as a the location to create the community upon the true was Facebook provides a better frame work to do that. A realisation therefore was we should concentrate on developing the Facebook group since that is the place where music teachers feel comfortable to engage with one another.

Secondly, being a small team we cannot compete with multi-million pound online social platforms. It sounds obvious when you say it, but when you are developing something that you really want people to use you can convince yourself that people will use it. However, compare it to a platform like Facebook and you can see the limitations of our platform. Matt Morley summed this up perfectly to me – “users expect the speed of Google and the user friendly app feel of Uber”. The platform we made was good, nonetheless, it isn’t our core business to provide a social media platform for music teachers. It is obvious to those music teachers that the platform, while being full functional, isn’t as good as Facebook…and why should it be, considering the cost investment of the two platforms.

Two months ago I have such a clear thought. It was a true moment of realisation; “as a small business we should only concentrate on our core business”. With such a small team we don’t have the luxury to input a lot of time into projects that are not absolutely central to the business. Reflecting on this I would say that over the last two years I have developed a lot of different ideas, with an array of success, however very few of these ideas where absolutely central to the core business. Once I realised this it became obvious for me what I needed to do; sandbox projects that did not contribute to the core business and re-focus on making the core business awesome.

MGR Music – Guitar Lessons Manchester

Refocusing on the core business was the significant change of business strategy that has taken place during 2018. Specifically, this has meant the planned creation and launch of local music hubs. Each music hub will have a high-qualified and experienced music teacher, offering lessons to students in that area. I am very proud to say at the start of May 2018 we officially launched our first music hub, Guitar Lessons Manchester.

This was a huge step up from what we had previously offered, which was essentially a database of music teachers. This left the student to find a suitable teacher for themselves, rather than creating the infrastructure for great music teachers to provide professional tuition to students. Although some areas had consistent steams of enquiries, including for drum lessons in Leicester and guitar lessons in Manchester – as mentioned in my last post in August 2017 – I felt we could do so much more in locations where high numbers of music students were getting in touch. Therefore, in early May we appointed Dan Hall as Head Guitar Teacher at Guitar Lessons Manchester, creating our first music hub.

Dan is an extremely experienced guitar teacher, having taught the guitar for over 10 years both privately and in local schools. He is a qualified guitar teacher, having gained a FD Pop Music and Performance University of Salford. His impressive experience and knowledge as a guitar teacher is backed up by a fantastic approach to the lessons. Adopting a “no pressure” style of teaching Dan works hard to ensure are inspired to learn, rather than forced to. This approach to teaching, that draws a lot upon what the guitar student wants to learn, really resonated with me as a guitar teacher. The music hub will be based in the Stretford area of Manchester, with great transport links from across the city. Dan and I will work extremely closely together to provide the highest-quality guitar tuition that Manchester has to offer. This focus and investment in these music hubs will provide opportunities for guitarists of all abilities to rapidly progress in an environment that is ideal for guitar lessons.

It was fantastic announcement to launch Guitar Lessons Manchester with Dan this month. I have plans to launch a small number of dedicated music hubs across the UK over the next 6 months and I will keep you up to date with this progress. After nearly 6 months of development of the platform it is wonderful to feel that I am taking the next steps in my entrepreneurial journey and look forward to sharing this experience with you.

 

Posted under MGR Music, Music Teachers

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on May 5, 2018

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Music Teacher Database – Progress Update

Six months on from launching the national database of music teachers, known as mgrmusic.com, I thought I would be a good time to give a progress update on the development of the platform, both from a business and design point of view.

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 for drum lessons and guitar lessons, 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. The mgrmusic.com blog has been a real creative outlet for myself, enabling me to promote some of the more interested items of news that pass across my desk to the teacher community – from competitions at Marshall Amps HQ in Milton Keynes to local festivals, music teacher job opportunities and educational resources.

Nonetheless, there have been setbacks too – from decisions to sandbox other projects like HomeGyms.co.uk and WeddingBand.co.uk to focus on this project, as I believe it has real potential – one greater than those previous two ideas, to implementing upgrades on the website that are not supported on legacy browsers (alienating some of the teacher’s with older PCs who are unable to access the website – something that will be resolved in the next few months). 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!

Posted under Progress Update

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on August 3, 2017

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Google Mobile Update

On the 25th of April 2015 Google brought out one of the most significant algorithmic search updates since the famous Panda/Penguin updates. Responding to a major shift during the last four years in the way that people search on Google, the leading search engine introduced this update to place mobile friendly websites higher in mobile searches than “non-mobile friendly” websites. This makes sense as over 45% of website users are now surfing the internet via their smartphone devices.

So what does this mean for the internet, well potentially the change will have dramatic ramifications across the globe as, on the top level, many of the FTSE, Dow Jones and S&P 500 companies do not have “mobile-friendly” websites – this update could see them drop off into Google obscurity until they re-aline with Google requirements for all websites. On a small to medium size business level you will see companies that generate a large proportion of their clients, if not all their clients, from the internet potentially destroyed as leads dry up due to drops in the mobile search. So what is it specifically that Google is requiring websites to be?

Well, originally websites were created to be viewed on wide-screened desktop (and more recently laptop) devices – this gave them an appearance where a lot of information would be displayed from left to right, before a user would scroll down “below the fold” as Google puts it. Those of you who use your smartphone to view websites will know that a “non-optimised” website will present this same information again within the same format, giving a website that requires a serious amount of zooming before you can read the text. A mobile friendly website tends to push the same content into blocks that re-size perfectly for all mobile devices – avoiding a client to zoom in and increase they scroll down through the information. Moreover, they are drawn through the website with links that are tappable on a mobile device – rather than the minuscule links on a non-optimised website that gives the frustration that many of you will share of tying to click one link but getting a completely different page to the one desired due to the links being so closely placed together.

This change in the Google algorithm has had a profound effect on many businesses, all of whom have been scrambling to get their websites updated fast enough for the algorithm update (the time between the Google announcement of the update and the actual update was only eight weeks, which isn’t long if you need to completed redesign your website!). Thankfully, in my case though the website designs did need updating to make them mobile friendly they didn’t need completely new designs – instead we adapted what we had to comply with the new algorithm requirements.

Guitar Lessons Swansea

Here you can see on the Guitar Lessons Swansea website how mobile users would see the websites prior to the mobile update – the text is almost unreadable due to the tiny size and the users ability to toggle through the website is much reduced due to the tiny links

Therefore over the last few weeks, with the help of 1010 Media, we set about updating the designs of all the websites to ensure that the music business’s websites would be complainant with the new Google algorithm. And I am please to reveal the finished article – something that we have tested extensively during April to ensure that it works seemlessly on all mobile devices, from iPads to Android smartphones (and I guess even smart-watches!).

Guitar Lessons Middlesbrough

The Guitar Lessons Middlesbrough website is an example of the post updated website, where the content has now be optimised for a mobile device enabling the user to scroll down (rather than zoom in) for information. You might note the menu bar at the top that enable users to easily access other pages of the website.

I am especially excited to watch the analytics of the websites to see how this improves enquiry numbers, or client engagement with the website from mobile devices now that they are being update. It will be a slow process for me to update all 120 websites, but over the next 60 days I am to do just that – and no matter where you are with your business I would advise you to do the same. You can view here the Google Page Speed Analysis program to determine if your website is suitably responsive to mobile devices – Google will also provide pointers on how to improve that page. I guess my question to you, as a student business who sells products online, is can you afford (i) to have up to 45% of your audience poorly catered for with a non-mobile friendly website and (ii) can you afford to drop off Google’s mobile searches? If the answer is no, then best get to updating soon! But don’t despair – as with all algorithms Google will constantly review your website promoting it again once it complies to its requirements, therefore, you can still reverse any negative changes you might face over the next few months.

On the business front thanks to the help of many University of Exeter students that are helping me write and create new websites I am pleased to announce that we have finished Piano Lessons Sheffield website this week. As a business we are keen to continue to expand to over 120 websites across the UK within the next 4 months. It is going to be a big challenge but I think we are certainly up to it! Alongside this I am keen to look to the recruitment side of the business to ensure that we are hiring new teachers as new websites are created. It is a big challenge to balance the time input into all areas of the business but overall I feel that we are going in the right direction.

Posted under 1010 Media, MGR Music

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on May 3, 2015

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Progress Update: Guitar Lessons London

I thought exactly one year to the day when I launched Guitar Lessons London I thought I would write a short personal update on its development, a story of pivoting, entering the most competitive music tuition market in the UK and constant development to appeal to an audience that is like nowhere else in the UK. Originally rather than a Guitar Lessons London website the site was targeted at the entirety of the UK, under a “Guitar Lessons UK” branding with subpages for different teachers within locations – yet it quickly proved inefficient in generating the number of enquiries needed to support multiple guitar teachers across the nation.

Guitar Lessons London - originally launched under the a 'Guitar Lessons UK' branding

Guitar Lessons London – originally launched under the a ‘Guitar Lessons UK’ branding

Therefore, when the opportunity arose to move into the London guitar tuition market – a dream of mine since launching my music tuition business in first year of university – I pounce upon it, purchasing the www.guitarlessonslondon.com domain name and rebranding the website to “Guitar Lessons London”.

However, this quickly struck a problem as with a UK map potential students only had the very smallest of areas to click on to locate their teachers, so with the help of Andy from 1010 Media we decided to include a borough by borough map of London as the focus of the websites homepage. Whenever you design a website you have to be really clear about the customers journey through that website, once a potential client is on your website how are you going to get the from A (the first page they view) to B (a purchase, enquiry, content viewing, email subscription page depending on your aims for the website). For the music tuition websites the aim is to get them to enquiry via a contact form so having a clear customer journey for this new look Guitar Lessons London website was key: (i) landing page (ii) click on borough on map (iii) select teacher (iv) read about teacher (v) contact.

Guitar Lessons London - second design, with London borough map

Guitar Lessons London – second design, with London borough map

Yet, after this update was launched the truth was it simply didn’t work! How could this be? Well, the truth was this had disturbed a central theme that had helped the success of all of the other music tuition website; primarily that each website was designed for one teacher, creating a personalised experience for a potential student that didn’t give them more choices to make about which teacher they wanted. I found that providing potential students with a multitude of teachers actually decreased enquiry rates as a client simply wanted one teacher that looked professional, friendly and able to teach them the music that they wanted to learn. There was a second cold point that we quickly learned – that even 5 clicks from landing page to enquiry was too many to ask of the majority of web users who went through this thought process: (i) enter a website, does it look good? (ii) looks good, read a little info (iii) sounds good, I will enquire – making it a three step process. And a final third point was that by presenting a multitude of teachers the website gave the impression that it was a music agency rather than a personalised website ran by a great guitar teacher – a quick search for “Guitar Lessons London” on Google would show that my direct competitors all presented in the same manor: a music agency with teachers, rather than individual teachers running their own website. This meant that my website simply didn’t stand out from the rest – no wonder the enquiries were so low despite the best of intentions when we launched the second design update!

So despite all the hard work, as well in investment in this second design, in February 2014 I decided to develop a new model where the website replicated the normal locational website templates with a “lead teacher” who could deliver lessons to students within their own homes across London to see if I could increase enquiry numbers. Implementing this template would make the website much more personal, hopefully improving enquiry numbers through a model that had already been proven across the UK. Another huge time investment this third updated came into place and I quickly saw a rapid increase in the number of enquiries coming through the website – yet it was still way off what I would expect for the number of searches made per month in London for guitar lessons.

Guitar Lessons London - third design, personalised to a single 'lead teacher'

Guitar Lessons London – third design, personalised to a single ‘lead teacher’

Clue another step back and analysis of the analytics of the websites – turns out the Londoners spend even less time on the websites that in other cities across the UK, meaning basically even if they liked the website that they didn’t have the time/motivation/patients to get to the final “Contact Me” page. Ever heard of “London service” – turns out the same is true on the internet! (Why wouldn’t it be?!) So to combat this I decided to additionally put a contact form on every one of the pages that I want a client to work through when they land on the website, everything from the “About Me” page to the “Prices” page. This again dramatically increased the number of enquiries coming through the website – yet is it finished, certainly not! There is still plenty to develop on the website over the next year or so to help to increase the conversion numbers of the people entering the website to completing the target action desired by the webmaster. I have found that nothing ever stands still on the internet, it is an ever evolving field where a inconveniently placed link or one click too many will half the number of conversions you will make – but what am I complaining, I would do just the same on your website and so would you!

Posted under 1010 Media, Guitar Lessons London, MGR Music, Progress Update

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on April 17, 2014

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Progress Update: The Ember Club

I thought a year on from my last blog post it would be great time time to start a series of progress updates on some of the entrepreneurial students that we have worked with here at the Innovation Centre. This not only includes current students, but students that worked with and graduated alongside the first Student Entrepreneur in Residence Tom Carrington-Smith to see where their entrepreneurial journeys have lead them now three years on. I will also talk to the students I worked with during my time as the Student Entrepreneur in Residence, as well as the students that are currently working with Mithil Shah, our current Student Entrepreneur in Residence.

Mithil Shah & Kimberley Martinez

Mithil Shah & Kimberley Martinez (the Innovation Centre’s & Students’ Guild’s Student Entrepreneurs in Residence for 2013-14 academic year)!

As a Student Entrepreneur in Residence Tom (2011-12), Matthew (2012-13) and Mithil (2013-14) saw on average about 100 University of Exeter students per year – all pitching business concepts that covered a huge range of industries and products. We met with students at all different stages of their businesses, from students who simply had an idea to students that had been running fully fledged businesses while at the university. The role of the Student Entrepreneur in Residence is to provide support and advice for all entrepreneurial minded students at the University of Exeter, regardless of where they are with their idea or business. The SEiR also helps to create a small community of like-minded entrepreneurial students who are encouraged to help each other with the challenges of running a business while trying to complete a degree at the same time! Over the last three years this community has grown exponentially, in this series of blog posts I will look to talk to just a few members of this community to hear about their business stories. We would love you to become a part of this entrepreneurial community, so if you have a business idea (no matter where you are with it!) or are thinking about starting a business while at university don’t hesitate to get in touch – you can contact the Student Entrepreneur in Residence by emailing .

I thought that a fantastic business to kick off the progress update blog post series would be The Ember Club, a platform for like-minded entrepreneurial students from a range of different universities to connect, solve business problems and meet investors, mentors and industry experts. Founded by Tom Charman, Edward Noel (serial entrepreneur; founder of Soundsynk and Exeter University Calendars) and Nathan Dundovic the trio where keen to ensure that there was a platform for genuine entrepreneurial students to connect on, providing the business support that they felt was often overlooked for young business founders.

Tracking back a little, I first met Tom Charman in 2012 and blogged about his first year business idea George Edwards – a British made clothing company that looked to produce quality shirts, socks and sweatshirts for students. Indeed, Tom was a student that pitched his business at the SETsquared 2013 Deloitte pitching event. His business has been progressing slowly, with his official launch being set for Summer 2014 – yet one of the main reasons for the this is Tom’s business attention has been refocused on founding and running Ember Club which has proved extremely successful amongst entrepreneurial university students across the country.

By contrast The Ember Club has moved extremely fast since its launch in November 2013, with the founding members attending events like the Student Enterprise Conference held by NACUE to network with other business mined university students & pitch their idea. The business was quickly shortlisted for the Shell Live Wire Awards (Shell give 4x £1,000 grants to young entrepreneurs each month + £10,000 to a single Young Entrepreneur of the Year) as well as winning a £500 grant from the UnLtd fund.

http://unltd.org.uk

The Ember Club founders won a £500 grant for their idea from the UnLtd Fund!

By January 2014 The Ember Club had grown to 30 regular uses, a figure than now stands at well over 100 today, drawing in students from across the nations universities, as well as investors from as far a field as India and Australia. Continuing to drive their business platform forward Tom, Nathan and Ed are looking community to build their user base, increasing the value of the network to each member of the community, as well as grow the affiliate network that has been so successful for them so far. To become part of this community of young entrepreneurs simply Google The Ember Club. With great plans for the future there is no doubt that we will be hearing a lot more from The Ember Club as they grow in size and begin to bring their young enterprise platform to institutions like the University of Exeter business school and others on a national level. I will let you know how they get on over the next 12 months in my 2015 update!

It has been a big year for MGR Music as well – growing rapidly to over 75 music teachers located across the country tutoring over 4,500 students piano, guitar, singing and drum lessons. The most significant development has been successfully entering the London guitar tuition market, expanding rapidly to have multiple guitar teachers across London tutoring students in Fulham, Camden and Islington, in addition to continuing to grow on a national level taking on teachers even in the last few days in Glasgow and Ipswich, as well as for the Piano Lessons Cardiff website. We have quite a big announcement to make in the next few weeks as the business looks to enter a new market so I will keep you updated with what is happening on a business front as I write the progress updates! Want to get involved, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing .

Posted under George Edwards, Guitar Lessons London, Progress Update, SEiR, Student Businesses, The Ember Club

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on March 1, 2014

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Week Six

The SetSquared Xing event held at the University of Surrey was unquestionably the highlight of this week. After an inopportune 5am start Exeter university’s crack team of six of our best entrepreneurs and I headed off to Guilford to join forces with entrepreneurs from Bath, Southampton, Bristol and Surrey to take part in a regional business challenge. The day was a resounding success, with each mixed university team being given a business idea to develop over four hours before pitching it back to a pool of Dragon’s Den style judges. While the students were split up to network and build teams with talented students drawn across the globe to our five universities, the Student Entrepreneurs in Residence (the equivalent position to mine) of each of the five universities were placed into a team – this was a hilarious (mis)decision! Instantly getting on famously it created a fantastic day of socialising, networking and business development – with the students coming away having experienced first hand some of the critical aspects of turning an idea into a business model.

SETsquared Xing challenge

With three of the Exeter students winning big money prizes during the event’s finale – a share in the £1,500 awarded on the day to entrepreneurial students – we returned back to Exeter. The message of the day was certainly focused on teams and the importance of building the right team, one where getting the right personalities has more of an impact on team productivity than hiring on qualification. Understanding this is vital for new businesses as hiring the wrong second, third or forth employee in your organisation might be the direct reason for your business failing. Lucky after some horror stories from former Kauffman Scholar Alistair Shepherd we will be thinking twice before we recruit again!

After meeting several student businesses during my drop sessions (email me if you want one) including JD Solis, e-Book gifting and Instabear – who are launching extremely soon – I went to meet local lawyer Dominic Hollingsworth of Kitsons. Part of my role this year is to build up a network of external professional services to help aid student business development, this includes reaching out to legal, accountancy and bank firms to build relationships that students can benefit from. The meeting was a great success and I am proud to say we have Kitsons on board for legal support for university entrepreneurs!

At MGR Music I hired another teacher, a university of Exeter student and piano wizard Callum Henry for the Piano Lessons Exeter website, while the business expanded into Leicester and Cambridge. Being the first week in the month the money for the previous months lesson commissions came in, up 8.25% percent in January from December! The Guitar Lessons London website is also coming together behind the scenes, ready for its big launch on the 17th April 2013! Check out the screenshots below…

Guitar Lessons London – development screenshot!

Posted under Guitar Lessons London, Instabear, JD Solis, Kauffman Scholarship, SEiR, SetSquared, Student Businesses

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on February 9, 2013

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Week Four

Another furious week this week up at the Innovation Centre as we awarded grant funding to our first student business of the year! Dan Wiseman, a recent drama graduate and current owner of Webwise Media, pitched for grant funding to help develop his software solution to digital signage management. Named Screenfish, the idea successfully negotiated its way through two business plan development sessions, multiple meetings with Innovation Centre staff and a Dragon’s Den style pitch before gaining funding. Congratulations to Dan, I will keep you updated as how the project is going!

Screenfish – Webwise Media Ltd new software package!

I also met a student during my weekly drop in sessions who pitched one of the best business ideas I have heard all term! Instabear, which has already gone online this week, is an awesome website where you can finally get your Instagram photos printed! Offering both Polaroid’s and snaps check out their website and like their Facebook page – great job by final year student Solly Akhtar!

Instabear goes live!

This week also saw me travelling up to Leicester and Sheffield to interview guitar teachers for the Guitar Lessons Leicester and Guitar Lessons Sheffield websites. A really exciting trip, I managed to interview a total of five teachers in Leicester and Sheffield hiring a new guitar teacher in Leicester to work with!

Interviewing is a hard process to get right, especially in the context of my sub-contracting business where I have to pitch the business model to them while they try and pitch themselves to me. There is a lot of research to suggest that interviewing is actually one of the worst ways of selecting the right people to work for your organisation as the process is far from objective. Personality, appearance and the fact you both support the same football/rugby/bowls team invariably prompts you to hire the person you get on with rather than the best candidate for the job! Always take applications first and then select the final candidates to be interviewed by a colleague who is not the decision maker before interviewing the last two or three yourself!

Posted under Guitar Lessons London, Instabear, MGR Music, Student Businesses, Webwise Media, Wiseman Media

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on January 27, 2013

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Week Three

JD Solis were the student business find of the week! Ran by Alex O’Mahony-Zed, Nathaniel Rankin and Samuel Cooledge this premium operation began in summer 2012 as the three Exeter University students saw an opportunity in the polo lifestyle market. Manufacturing a simple but stylish polo belt, made in the colours of your polo team, the belts sold extremely well during the summer months at numerous polo tournaments! Targeted at the polo audience rather than the players themselves this high-end market enables a tasty margin on each belt sold. With a great marketing strategy, namely trying to encourage the players themselves to wear the belts through sponsorships and giveaways to make them desirable to the audience (a common business strategy for sportswear brands), the trio successfully built up JD Solis as a polo brand and are now looking to bring this success across to their online sales.

JD Solis – Polo Belts!

This week also saw a few fantastic developments for MGR Music – this week the final website designs for the Singing Lessons Location, Piano Lessons Location and Drum Lesson Location have come through! Andy of 1010 Media has yet again done an amazing job creating extremely professional website templates that we have already started building this week. Check them out below! Already finished are the Piano Lessons Glasgow, Drum Lessons York and Singing Lessons Nottingham website thanks to MGR Music Tuition’s team of student copy writers – it is now over to me to find some teachers!

Final Piano Lessons Location Templates!

Posted under JD Solis, MGR Music, Student Businesses

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on January 20, 2013

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Introduction!

Hello, my name is Matthew Rusk and I am this academic year’s Student Entrepreneur in Residence working with Exeter university students who have business ideas! I started a business while studying history at Exeter (2009 – 2012) and am here to help develop, support and offer advice on your business ideas. I also work with current students who run businesses turning over thousands of pounds a year while at university – you will find out more about them in my blog – helping to develop these businesses into the next big thing. I have been asked to write a blog this term so you can find out more about what entrepreneurial Exeter students are getting up to, explain how you can develop your business ideas and let you experience the day to day highs and lows that running my business, MGR Music Tuition LTD, brings! Enjoy!

If you have any questions or would like to meet up to talk about your business ideas email me at . You can also read more about the back story to my business on the Career Zone and Alumni websites. In addition you can also check out more information about other students business right here at the uni at University of Exeter Student Businesses or here at the Career Zone Success Stories.

Matthew Rusk – Student Entrepreneur in Residence

Posted under SEiR

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on January 1, 2013

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