5 minutes with Future Tutor founder, Breanna Lee

4 July 2023
Turning passion project into a successful start-up
Breanna Lee began tutoring in year eight, and loved it so much she kept tutoring while studying her Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degree. Now she has some advice on how you can turn your hobbies into an entrepreneurial dream.
Breanna smiling in front of the University of Sydney Quadrangle

Breanna's decade long tutoring career began in 2012, by volunteering to teach students for free whilst studying. She learned that cultivating a mentorship connection leads students to drive their own learning in a way that external forces could never achieve. Breanna continued freelancing alongside studying her degrees at the University of Sydney, and dived into converting her passion project into a business.

The last few years have seen her adopt many new roles: marketing director, accountant, hiring manager, and most importantly, leader. Now with a small team behind her, Future Tutor is a growing force in the tutoring industry both as a successful startup and a burgeoning disruption to the way we think about private tutoring.

What motivated you to found Future Tutor and take on the challenge of addressing the inaccessibility of tutoring?

As a student I was keenly aware of the competitive nature of the ATAR. By the time I was in year 11 and 12, I had already established myself as a capable teacher, not only with my paying clients but with many of my classmates. It was deeply troubling to me that if I helped my classmates as well as I knew how, I was directly damaging my own ATAR prospects.

Furthermore, students are on an incredibly unlevel playing field when they compete for their rankings. It's well known that the school a student attends has a huge impact on the ATAR they are likely to receive, but add to that paid private tutors and students' positions become entirely incomparable. It is simultaneously unacceptable for the ATAR to be "pay-to-win" and for motivated students to be denied extra support. The only option is to make good tutoring affordable for those who can pay, and free for those who can't. The existence of our scholarship is a core tenet of Future Tutor, and I hope to show other companies that it's possible to support many more disadvantaged students than they do in the status quo.

How did your university qualifications help you get started in this career path?

My university experience has helped by cultivating adaptability and honing my expertise. I studied the unique combination of Physics, Maths and Latin, culminating in two degrees (BSc, BA) with three majors. Firstly, this breadth of study has made me a very well-rounded professional. The mathematical and data analytics skills that my science degree taught have prepared me for my unexpected foray into accounting and marketing. The writing skills of my arts degree have transformed into copy editing and managing employment contracts.

Secondly, as an educator, having dived deeply into my subjects qualifies me not only to teach what is expected at highschool, but to indulge my students' curiosity. The joy of answering students' "What if..?" and "What about..?" questions continues to fuel and inspire me. I want learning to be something we engage with through open minds and a drive to see connections wherever they appear, even if they're outside of the curriculum. 

What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced in building and growing your business, and how have you overcome these obstacles?

Though often the start is the hardest part, Future Tutor has been thrust forward by the market's demand and growth has been our only option. All aspects of the growth phase of a business are challenging. Finding the right people is a crucial undertaking and acquiring an excellent Operations Manager early on has been one of Future Tutors' greatest triumphs. In a business where our staff are our product, we are very particular about the tutors we hire. In the early phases we have been limited by the breadth of our staff and our ability to match students to tutors has been a bottleneck for growth, but one we are overcoming piece by piece as we acquire new talent.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I am in the very early stages of my career, but my greatest achievement so far is that Future Tutor is a genuine, positive force in the lives of the people it affects. Our students rave about us, our tutors' value is accurately reflected in their well above industry standard wages, and for me, I have a career doing what I love in a high-quality and ethically responsible way which wasn't possible before Future Tutor.

What's next for you?

Shaping Future Tutor will continue to be my full-time job for the next several years. I firmly believe that by bringing the right people together we can provide transformative support to students with an effectiveness and integrity previously unseen in the tutoring industry.


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