One of the guests at our residential session in Berlin was Tobias Hönig of Scolibri. Scolibri is a one-stop platform for students, teachers and administrators. We managed to catch up with him afterwards for a longer interview about Scolibri’s current crowdfunding campaign.
OEC: What are the goals of your crowdfunding campaign (other than just raising money) and how did you prepare for it?
Tobias: We launched our crowdfunding campaign about two weeks ago. Our goal, other than raising money, is getting investors on board who will bring their know-how to the team of Scolibri. The people from the Innovestment crowd can be seen as "small" angel investors, perhaps founders or businessmen. We want to start building a relationship with them for further rounds of financing, strategic support, etc. That's why we met as many as possible while preparing our campaign. So far this has worked; most of the investments came from our expanded network.
OEC: You have some excellent testimonials on your website. How did you go about piloting your platform and getting these early testimonials?
Tobias: We started working on Scolibri with teachers in schools. Lukas, founder and product developer, is a teacher himself. If you want to build a product I assume you also want the people using it to love it. Or at least you have to find people that like you enough to help you to improve your product until they the product itself. That might sound simple, it isn't. In the end we went to about 50 schools, that means calling the heads of school, making appointments, having a questionnaire ready, asking the right questions, selling your vision, building a prototype, selling the prototype, etc. On the other hand, this approach gave us confidence that we were building the right product fitting the schools and the market we want to enter. Additionally we had people waiting to become users. It wasn't a big deal for them to help us out by giving a testimonial for our website. After all, they were involved throughout the process of building Scolibri.
We ask, we listen, we build.
OEC: What's your most recent milestone or "big win"?
Tobias: Our most recent milestone was to enrol an entire school at once. It was challenging to get everyone on board - students, teachers and the parents. Before we had rolled out schools bottom up, starting with single groups, groups of teachers, and so on until we had covered the school. We have implemented a new admin panel. The next step will be a school setup that is done by the school itself.
OEC: What do you think are the main considerations that other startups should take into account when they are thinking about crowdfunding?
Tobias: Start building your network as early as possible. Tell everyone about your campaign and make them ask for more information. Make them wait for the kick-off. If people like your campaign and the goals they will start talking about it. Don't get me wrong, it is not about 'making it viral', it is about making them recommend your team, product and campaign within their networks. Some investors said: “I am considering an investment because I like you, the team and your product because it is solving a real problem”. A first round investment always is a gut decision.
OEC: Could you tell us what Scolibri is bringing to the edtech market that no-one else is?
Tobias: With Scolibri we are straight on our way enabling teachers, students and importantly parents to deal with most of their tasks by using only one single platform. We bring together all the people from one school - but also a single use or group use is easily possible. With our web-app store we bring paid and open content to our users. Other platforms just have content from publishing houses OR open educational resources. Our greatest motivation and at the same time biggest challenge is making all this possible in an easy way. Other platforms require special trainings or a technical setup - with Scolibri everyone can directly start working.
The Scolibri platform in action (image courtesy of Tobias)
If you are interested in learning more about Scolibri, visit their website at www.scolibri.com. Their crowdfunding campaign is still open and will continue until 27 November 2014 on the Innovestment platform. You can also reach out to Tobias on Twitter at @ScolibriBerlin.