We continue our interview with Rich Harley, CEO of ScholarPack to find out more about the history of the company, it’s mission and future plans.
Could you tell us a bit about ScholarPack? Why did you create the product? What was your mission?
Our mission to begin with was simply to do a better job of MIS systems than the main incumbent. We started in a shed with just two people - myself and and my first business partner, who was actually a teacher and brought a much-needed teaching methodology to the product. My own background was in computer science, and together we formed a really good partnership. The main goal was to create something easy to use and which was very functional for a primary school.
Many primary teachers say that their non-Cloud based MIS was complicated - and there was clearly an appetite for this new direction. We took lots of early feedback from schools on board and did plenty of user testing to make sure we provided what teachers needed.
The product spread through word of mouth. It’s difficult to market to schools as the majority of them have systems that they’ve been using for a long time and they can be quite resistant to changing them, which is understandable - they are busy people and they perceive that this kind of change can be difficult to implement. So word-of-mouth marketing about a product - and particularly about how easy it is to switch from an existing provider - has more weight and credibility than any sales pitch could offer. That’s essentially how we grew.
Over the last seven years, we’ve expanded from a two man team to more than fifty employees. In 2018, we were really excited to be acquired by The Key. We think that there’s huge opportunity to integrate content into the MIS. An example - let’s say it’s been decided that a child has to be taken out for an exclusion - it’s going to be a fixed term exclusion which a teacher needs to record in the MIS. But perhaps before they do so, they come across some articles on The Key on the subject of exclusions which could prove really useful in the given situation.
How do you think ScholarPack differs from other MIS providers on the market?
We’ve never really lost the focus on speed. We always want to make those core tasks quick for the user so that they can focus on higher value things. We’re proud that users can access any part of the system within three clicks. Year End and Census are very quick to do in ScholarPack - our users would definitely attest to that. Year End should be a process that you can do in a couple of hours rather than a couple of days - and we’ve strived very hard to achieve that.
I know you mentioned earlier that the main way in which you developed your product was through user feedback. Will this continue to be the case?
Yes, definitely. We have a suggestions system on our site which receives two or three new ideas every single day. A lot of the time its new features that users want or slight tweaks to existing features, and we always take care to read all suggestions.
And finally, if any primary schools were interested in finding out more about ScholarPack, what should they do?
It’s really simple. Contact me directly if you wish to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email email@example.com. We say sales, but it’s really not a hard sell at all. We just want to give you a demonstration, talk to you about your needs and see whether we can make your life simpler. There’s no obligation at all.