Naimish Gohil, CEO & Founder of Edtech firm Satchel, explains how his startup wants to change homework forerver
What is your company and what do you do?
Satchel was founded in 2011 under the name of our flagship software, Show My Homework, an online homework platform. The name change to Satchel reflects the growth of our business and suite of apps.
Tell us a bit about your career to date
I began as an IT teacher in two inner-city London secondary schools, working my way up to become an Assistant Headteacher during my 5 years. Tech in schools then was limited; there was little around to make the homework process better and most software was unintuitive and difficult to navigate.
So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and began coding a solution myself. I quit my job and threw my life savings into creating what was then a 3 man team, and is today a business of 50!
What services or products do you offer and how will businesses and/or consumers benefit?
Our flagship app is called Show My Homework. This lets teachers manage homework transparently and efficiently. It also gives teachers helpful insights into where pupils are excelling and might require additional help. Students love it because it allows them to do their homework on their personal devices rather than in paper textbooks, driving higher pupil engagement.
We have also moved into content delivery by partnering with education publishing house, Collins. This provides curriculum-based content to teachers in line with examining boards, allowing them to create more relevant homework. The tool I am most excited about however, is our online tutoring service. This allows busy parents to arrange remote learning sessions with fully qualified teachers.
Say one thing your company does that no one else can do?
Our after sales service is second to none. Unlike competitors, support is built into our licence price – and provided by an experienced in-house team from the start. We don’t believe in tiered support packages; we know that for technology to succeed in schools, engagement needs to be consistent and high. This is why our support channels are open to all users: teachers, pupils, and their parents.
We’re based in Stratford, Newham, the borough is special because it’s where I grew up. Its regeneration has resulted in the development of world-class infrastructure and brought in fantastic talent, of which I’m very proud. There are few better places to grow a global business.
How big is your company and what are your technology demands?
Our technology is used by 1500 schools in 23 countries. Our technology demands are similar to those of most growing businesses, in that we need the ability to build and deploy new features quickly. They must also be scalable and flexible to business growth. We use Ruby on Rails and Ember to build our technical estate, whilst Show My Homework is hosted in the cloud with Amazon Web Services.
Where do you see your company in five years?
Our aim is to IPO. I have big ambitions for Satchel to power everything schools need in order to run better and solve school wide problems globally.
How can the UK government help start-ups in the UK and will Brexit have any impact?
When it comes to EdTech, the UK government can help by providing better internet connectivity to schools. There’s lots of cool tech out there that can enhance school management and the in-class learning experience, but lack of high-quality connectivity is holding back adoption – particularly in old school buildings.
Brexit is also causing ongoing concern in the startup community. The main issue for us is uncertainty around EU employee citizenship. To remain a competitive and innovative nation, we must have access to the best talent, irrespective of where that talent comes from.
Which tech company do you admire and why?
Apple is a massive inspiration. With Steve Jobs’ vision, the business made personal technology accessible for everyone. They were not innovators as such; instead, they took existing technology and made it more user-friendly. The businesses ability to keep ahead and stay relevant, whilst paying close attention to customer needs, is unparalleled and truly inspirational.
Naimish Gohil, is the CEO & Founder of Satchel