Joel Davis was just 17 years old when he won his first Award from UnLtd as a young social entrepreneur in 2012. Two years later he is now the youngest person ever to receive the Scaling Big Venture Challenge Award. His venture, Tutors United, provides tuition to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, while creating paid part-time employment and experience for university students.
After finishing his GCSEs with excellent grades, Joel Davis was confident he would be able to find a part-time job. However, employers constantly rejected him because he did not have enough work experience. On free school meals and in desperate need of an extra income, Joel went back to doing what he knew best – tutoring.
Joel has previously tutored his younger cousins who were severely dyslexic and saw them go from not being able to read and write to surpassing their predicted grades. Joel said, "If I could do that at 14, what could a university student do? And I was like yes! I can tackle two problems and create a solution."
He approached UnLtd for an Award to help pilot his idea and instantly saw impressive results – 80 per cent of the 80 pupils jumped up a level in their grades, while all the tutors were able to gain employment or join a graduate scheme. "And then it just really took off from there," said Joel. With the support of the UnLtd youth team, Joel pitched successfully for a further £10,000 Award, receiving a unanimous 'yes' from all the judges. This grant was used to scale his venture.
As part of the Award, Joel attended a residential event at the end of 2012 which focused on personal development and introduced him to a network of peers he is still in touch with today. Joel also received support from an UnLtd Award Manager: "Aside from the grant UnLtd gave me, Caroline was an amazing asset. More like a coach, coaching me through. A critical friend, thinking things through logically..." Reflecting on his Award, Joel said that his confidence, skills, networks and contacts had improved, and that the Award was a positive learning experience. He said that running the project had made him think differently about his future employment options.
Joel is now a part of UnLtd's 2014 scaling programme, Big Venture Challenge. He and the team are focusing on expanding his venture: building his financial model and scaling strategy, business planning and evolving his brand and organisational structure. Following an introduction by UnLtd, Joel has successfully secured a £25,000 loan from Liberum Capital's charitable foundation, which has been grant-matched by UnLtd.
UnLtd has also connected Joel with a mentor from EY Foundation, one of our corporate partners, to support him in building his Board and his plans for the future.