The business plan
My research has found that teachers are interested in my product and that my prototype, after beta testing appeals to them as some thing that they would be happy to use.
Unfortunately for me having developed a product is not enough. To actually sell my product I have begun to develop a business plan, discover who my audience is and the best ways which I could reach out to them. It is also important for me to keep track on whether the systems that I put in place are effective in reaching out to the right people.
Conducting a quick Facebook check using it’s very useful advertising tool I found that there are 1,037,424 people on Facebook alone who ‘Have expressed an in interest in or like pages related to Educational technology’ and thats people on Facebook alone. Thats 1 in 4 people, 1,23 billion users out of a population of 7.046 billion as of 3 days ago according to expanded ramblings and trusty old google. Thats a massive audience, and also a massive deal of competition.
So how can I make my business stand out amongst the competition?
The interactive whiteboard was first developed in 1991 and by 2004, 26% of British primary classrooms had interactive whiteboards.
Although this was below the expected revenue of a predicted 1 in 7 classrooms within the whole world, the expansion in the use of interactive whiteboards globally has been vast with becta_2010_htss_report indicated that 98% of secondary and 100% of primary schools had IWBs by 2010.
So today, a product made solely for use on an interactive whiteboard is essentially aimed at every if not all schools.
This also means that the use of technology within the classroom is generally accepted, which is positive in that it makes the prospect of my business less daunting to my target audience but it also means that I am not the only business to take advantage of the acceptance of technology in this way.
However on my side is the niche, the specific use of marker technology to bring interactivity to PSHE that I have incorporated into my product and to help that sell for the fun and proven to be powerful tool that it is I have begun to put together a structured business plan working closely with the creative futures department of my university.
Through working with creative futures I have learnt that, there are 2 different types of business plans. A ‘formal document is often a necessity for securing external funding and may include supporting appendix references to increase the likelihood of this ‘whilst an informal business plan is a personal guide for the owner to plan the intended route for their business.’
For now, with the help of creative futures I have begun to develop a formal business plan based on the principles of Nesta, a resource for business newbies intended to ‘Make Innovation Flourish’,-
On the detailed completion of my business plan my intention is to then create an informal one to try and get external funding via my university with the creative futures team, if there is sellable intellectual property of which I actually own the rights to.
As my resource is an educational aid it is some thing which investors within the university tend to look favourably on.
In the event of developing my product to the point of selling it would be important to use an advertising technique which reflects the type of product that it is.
The business experience show community blog states that “Innovative marketing is important for making the most of what you already have.”
And so to practice my innovative marketing skills, using mozilla editing software I have taken an existing interactive poster and played around with the css code using the available tutorials.
And this is the final product. An advertising campaign which is interactive, just as is the software.
This module has taught me a great deal about every stage of innovation and the importance of research in developing. I have learnt that, through interaction with educational software advertising agency TeachersWithApps that developing an innovative idea, with enough research, can be hugely beneficial.
After asking for feedback on my product via Twitter, I caught the interest of TeachersWithApps. They are currently reviewing the potential for my idea in the market to give me a rough idea of where I am at and whatever happens I will most definitely, whatever happens keep developing my innovative ideas from now on through thorough research and reflection rather than on a whim. This way I will never stop learning.
Gregory,A. (2014). How to write a simple business plan. Available: http://sbinformation.about.com/od/businessplans/ht/how-to-write-a-simple-business-plan.htm. Last accessed 5th March 2014.
The final prototype that I have created is based on the principles of how advertising works in the educational business context and that is why every piece of paper or photograph that I have put into the folder is based on market research and research into reaching an audience. I have achieved this through looking at other competitors ways of distributing their ideas as you can see in earlier blogs and this is a breakdown of how I technically achieved each element.
The actual folder
Essentially just a net folded together to look fancy but as the shell for the actual resource inside it needed to
- Look professional
- Represent its contents
- Stand out within competition
and this is where the knowledge of branding came into play. I sketched out the semiotics of what I wanted to represent, notably the use of a hand as a symbol of classroom interaction and discussed my ideas with a graphics designer. Together we put together the final design using Photoshop and illustrator and sent it off to a professional printers to be made.
Working with a professional associate was a beneficial experience, I learnt about budgeting, communication and unfortunately but beneficially the importance of checking a design before finalising it. On the front cover stands the tag line ‘Somethings cannot be taught from books.’ Taken from a real interview with a student in a discussion about my product it speaks exactly what I wanted it to, however it doesn’t speak it in a way which is grammatically correct. Within minutes of noticing my mistake I contacted the printers and unfortunately it was too late. Annoying? Enormously. Some thing (two words) to learn from? Definitely. Attention to detail, especially for selling an educational resource for the classroom is hugely important. Some things cannot be taught from books, and how frustrating it is to make such a mistake in a real life business situation is one of them.
Schon talks about a cycle of learning and in that way that experience was perfect, I developed something through research and then popular knowledge gave me an area to improve on and in the future I will be more careful with the detail.
The letter and FAQ’s
Throughout my research I have spent a lot of time talking to teachers and those within the educational sector. So to create a letter, on the size of A4 without sounding too desperate and to sell my product back to the audience who has helped me was something which required research before hand.
Surveying teachers on existing resource packs as you can read about in my previous blog showed me that a popular resource pack was ‘Stonewall’. Their straight to the point and honest approach in why their resource should be used in the classroom inspired me to write a letter to the teacher which not only breaks the ice but aims to explain the benefits of PshMe. Within the surveys I also discovered that teachers felt favourably towards the inclusion of frequently asked questions so I included these too.
If there was one thing which I would improve is stating the particular age of which the product is aimed at, to do this I would need to do even more research into the curriculum and age appropriate expectations. In the future I will be working closely with a group of teachers and those educated in this area in order to do this.
Although I’ve done research into the technology behind augmented reality I am as far of from being a software programmer as Joey Essex is in learning how to tell the time. This is why I used existing skills and archive footage to demonstrate my ideas as closely as I could to the real thing.
I would love to have put more time into this demonstration as the animation was very basic, which is for my part a sign of bad time management but I thought that the screen shots were more effective in demonstrating my ideas and these went down particularly well in the beta testing of my folder.
I enclosed prompt cards to accompany the Demo DVD to replicate the interactivity that is a key theme with my software.
In the future I look forward to working with a programmer to actually replicate this interactivity into a demo as well as the software itself.
Example lesson plan
Context has become apparent to me as very important, as I have not been able to develop the software yet. I felt that a lesson plan which actually shows a way that my product could be used would help to do this.
In my feedback, one respondent very recently stated that:
The emotional issue of confidence in using technology is something which I aim to deal with consistently throughout the future development of my product.
Thinking back to the above comment and to this feedback during beta testing:
I listened to the respondent, as schon tells us to learn from our research I enclosed a small note explaining the basic technology behind the software in a way that establishes a popular concern, child safety within the use of technology.
So I have developed an innovative product by the terms of what my research defines one as, based on the genuine needs of teachers in a genuine context and have learnt and developed from my mistakes throughout to create an idea which, evidently whilst it still has room to grow also has room to sell. And that is where the business plan comes in.
Unlike a normal licence, there is more to an Educational Community Licence than meets the eye.
A cheaper one-off payment for the whole school, the head teacher or investor of classroom resources for the school can buy a discounted bulk usage of the software rather than each teacher or even student have to pay individually under official terms that they must follow.
Most educational resources generally run under this licence, it also has other perks.
The Apache license (version 2.0) of which the Educational Licence was developed from was created with the specific needs of the academic community in mind. As the members of the academic community came together to address the concerns of releasing software written at an academic institution under a free/open source license it is much more thoroughly though out and better appreciated than to sell a product to a school under no relevant license.
An educational resource, developed from within education is essentially more appealing and something I will look further into.
An excitable update on developing my app. Calling all teachers!; Research and Development + the start of a business plan
Hi everyone! Thank you for looking – A new app to teach PSHE – Blog – A new app to teach PSHE – TES Community http://t.co/CvxGPB0cbm
— Katie-Marie (@jazzyhanded) January 15, 2014
Where to start? Tomorrow morning I have a meeting with the creative futures department of my university to hopefully kickstart this app into a proper business and get an insight into everything I need to know about self-employing and funding. I have been working hard on gaining research a bit further a field and I’ve started to realise how much networking you have to put in to gain a single response. It is slowly starting to pay off though as this morning I got a retweet from the National Teachers Union! Hopefully this could be a good step to be joining the community of teachers that I ultimately want to sell my idea to.
If you are a teacher or know one that may be able to help, this is the survey that I am currently collecting responses with and any thoughts would be hugely helpful.
I don’t really know what to expect tomorrow but from the responses I’ve had so far I am definitely starting to see a place in the market and I am ready for whatever it takes to take that place. Looking forward to updating you all again.