Early in my 20s I travelled to the Kimberley’s for a two-week holiday. Seven years later I returned to Melbourne with my 2-year-old daughter and a view of going back to study so I could develop skills that would help me establish a career that gave me flexibility in raising and supporting a young daughter as a single parent.
After three years studying IT I entered fulltime work in the internet arena as a website developer. Confronted early in my new career with the reality that my now 5-year-old child and a fulltime career were not going to be sustainable, I decided to pivot and start up my own business working from home allowing me to both be there for my daughter and have a career that could support us.
For the next 12 years I owned and operated a boutique graphic design studio and worked successfully with over 1,500 clients’ nationally and internationally.
The past seven years has seen me working closely in education delivering brand, marketing, website and communication solutions for a large volume of schools. Throughout this time it was apparent that the education system was struggling with outdated technologies and under-resourced staff, bringing to my attention the opportunity to further develop communication solutions for schools.
Combined with being a parent who had travelled through primary and secondary education with my daughter, I had experienced first-hand how traditional methods of communication from the school often by the way of a school note delivered via my daughter didn’t actually make it in to my hands.
At the end of 2012 I became focused on developing a communication solution that delivered school information in real time directly to parents and students on their mobile devices when they need it, just as I had come to expect in both my work and social life.
I ran my ideas by my long time tech-wiz friend and business associate. Together we both surrendered our well-paid careers and went on to spend the next 12 months developing the idea in collaboration with teachers, staff, students and parents. Late in 2013 we finished our trial period with a local school and the School Stream App was ready to launch to the public.
So what is it all about? School Stream is a free app for parents and students of licensed schools.
If a child’s school uses the app, then parents won’t pay a cent for access to the app. It is also free for all parents and students of licensed schools across multiple devices – a huge advantage for the busy modern day family which may need to share news across parents living separately or with other carers such as grandparents.
Let’s face it: nowadays every family is different with very different needs. I wanted to create something that makes everyone’s lives easier. If Mum is picking the kids up on Monday – Thursday but Dad is looking after them on Friday through to the weekend and then for the school run on Monday morning, they both have the same information about the entire school week with any important news, excursions, virus alerts – you name it!
Whether teachers are onsite or off, within school hours or without, School Streams easy access control panel allows schools to stream information to their school community when they need to. It is completely customisable and can replace most of the current paper-based communication between schools and parents; school newsletters, urgent alerts, sporting fixture information and updates, events, digital forms: absentee notices and permission slips, assessment notifications, school transport timetables, school canteen menus, uniform shop pricing, photo galleries and more. We have even integrated a function that allows parents to pay for school uniforms and lunches.
Not so long ago, a little editorial in the local paper created some real interest in the app with subsequent school sign-ups for the free 30-day trial of the product. At the end of the trial period we experienced a 100% uptake of the licensed product indicating to us a real need and desire for the app.
After launching officially in February, the app is now being trialled and licensed in 46 schools across Australia with growing interest in the product spreading as far as Thailand, America & London. We are now enjoying successes far beyond our expectations.
My daughter has now left home and is working in London, leaving me with the opportunity to focus exclusively on developing School Stream into one of Australia’s leading communication platforms in education with a view to making life significantly easier for both schools and parents.
This business idea was a 'light bulb' moment inspired by the everyday problems that parents and schools face. In less than a year it has opened up a whole new world of opportunities and I am excited to see where it takes us.
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To find out more about School Stream and sign up for a free trail, visit www.schoolstream.com.au