“In January 2014, we had the first version of our product built and we were excited by the results. We were convinced we could leverage this success by improving the product’s functionality so that it would be monetisable, but we needed mentorship and additional capital to achieve this. We came across The Open Education Challenge (OEC) through an internet search. Our product seemed to fit the application requirements. The OEC was a newly created incubator so there were no existing testimonials, but it was backed by the European Commission and P.A.U Education which had a great reputation and global reach.” Gregory Howe, GroupMooc co-founder, summarising his encounter with our organisation. We would like to share testimonials by Gregory and participants from other teams to explain more about the OEC programme’s approach and vision.
Gregory and his brother Michael – also a GroupMOOC co-founder – together with our other six Alumni startups embarked on a 12 week incubation process. This consisted of workshops, whilst enhancing the experience with exchanges, mentoring sessions, and meetings with potential customers and partners. They travelled to Helsinki, Paris, Berlin and London to cover topics on product development, business plan creation and investor presentation. Gregory’s feedback was very positive: “At every stage in this process we learned a great deal: the importance of product/market fit; implementing sophisticated user analytics; creating design displays to showcase our product; identifying new revenue stream opportunities; new approaches to marketing and advertising; and new techniques for business plan and pitch presentations to better communicate our solutions. For us, the highlights were the incredible expertise and experience of the mentors and the quality of the master class workshops. We were also introduced to potential customers, which is hugely helpful for a new business”.
The Value of Meeting the Right Experts and Mentors
“In my opinion, the meetings with potential customers and mentors are a total asset”, says Tomás Martinez Buero, CEO and co-founder of KlassData, a developer of educational learning analytics technologies. “Our company has grown during the incubation process. We fine-tuned our message to the different stakeholders (customers, channel, users and investors), becoming more effective at explaining our value proposition. We also improved our value proposition because we had the chance to meet many potential customers and educational experts across Europe, which helped us to understand much better the market’s needs and difficulties.’
Critical input and help from very diverse profiles, ranging from education experts to investors, were a major asset in the re-definition of the participants’ agenda. ‘They were pertinent, available and encouraging’, states Ivan Ostrowicz, CEO and co-founder of Domoscio. At the European Incubator for Education, we believe strongly in the potential of education and are proud to make a difference through education. As Ivan points out, “In terms of business, the incubation allowed us to have a better approach to the market, with an international vision. This vision clarified our positioning and targeting. Once these two points were well-defined, the message and marketing to implement them were made easier”.
Our youngest entrepreneurs and co-founders of Funbrush, Miłosz Cisowski and Adam Roszyk, (‘Dental Warriors’ is their email signature), were enriched by the first-hand knowledge they received through contact with more experienced entrepreneurs. “Conversations with mentors showed us our weaknesses, and the hard work and results from the users of our first prototype were a great motivator for action”, confirms Adam.
2015: The Year Ahead
Business development is certainly a kew phrase, for both Domoscio and Klassdata's plans for the new year. As Tomás explains, "Our objective is reaching €100,000 in sales, building a very solid company in order to multiply sales seven-fold in 2016. In order to do that, we need to keep buidling a healthy channel, keep improving our platform, and boost our reputation in the markey so we are perceived as the provider of choice". Investment, development and partnership are also key for both Funbrush and GroupMooc.
“My best advice for edtech start-ups in 2015 is to apply for the OEC. We have learned a great deal and met some very inspirational people, people we would never have met had it not been for the OEC,” recommends Gregory Howe.
With the start of 2015, we have already begun working to fulfil this year’s promising resolutions. We invite you to keep posted so you can stay up-to-date on information and opportunities arising in the weeks and months ahead.