Challenges of Scaling a Business – How We Help a Small English School
29 April 2020
As you probably know Evertop is a custom software development company. We design, develop, deploy and maintain bespoke systems created under our client’s requirements. On our daily basis work, we find less or more exciting and inspiring projects. The one I’d like to describe today is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting we’ve done so far. It was neither most difficult nor most complicated. It wasn’t even most profitable. To be honest, when we started working on it, I didn’t see anything special in it. I treated it as another ‘start-up project’ to be done. I was wrong.
My favourite projects are these where we can see that our work has a deeper sense and is worth the effort. And in this case benefits that have been achieved are really huge and they have a multidimensional character! But let’s start from the very beginning…
How to eat an elephant?
The story I’d like to introduce is about a platform which helps to manage the daily activities of a Language School named ‘kateit!’. It’s not a regular language school as I remember from my childhood where there were 1,5-hour lessons once or twice a week. The philosophy of kateit! is:
You have to eat an elephant piece by piece. Daily.
So, the idea is to have 15-minute lessons everyday and once a week – one longer 1-hour meeting with a teacher – on-line. Yes, it’s all done remotely. Short lessons are done via the phone, and longer via Skype. The teaching method is called ‘Stay–In-Touch’ comprises vocabulary exercises and tests done day by day.
Just imagine that you can practice your language skills by talking to your English teacher every day instead of listening to radio news or advertisements when you’re stuck in a traffic jam! I think it’s a really great idea. You can arrange lessons wherever you want and you can participate wherever you are! Sounds good but it’s not everything. As I mentioned before, the method is complemented by vocabulary exercises. Students receive 3 times a day a few words to remember. And once a day, they get a short test that checks if they remembered everything well.
It sounds very familiar today – skype, phone calls, on-line lessons. We all have it day by day, while coronavirus pandemic is present. The point is that Kate, the kateit! Language School owner invented this method long time ago and she has been using it for a few years now.
Challenges of scaling a business
The idea, as you can see, was great but the biggest challenge in this business was scaling it up. Most of the operational and administrative work was done manually and it took time. A lot of time! Scheduling lector’s availability and adjusting it to students needs took hours each week. Vocabulary exercises were sent via text messages – manually. And tests were sent via e-mails – Yes, also manually. It was not much time left to send bills and check if payments were made on time.
The operational and administrative workload was so big that it made business development practically impossible. Kate couldn’t even think about admitting new students because she was not able to serve them. The only solution was to digitalize the whole process and automatize it at least partly.
Fortunately, we managed to take up the challenge that was ahead of ‘kateit!’ really fast and efficiently. We created the system consisting of web application dedicated do administrative tasks and mobile application for students and teachers. It is also used for sending vocabulary exercises via push notifications and for making payments.
Thanks to the platform we created, the ‘kateit!’ Language School was able to spread its wings and multiply the number of its students. Six months after the introduction of the systems the number of students has tripled. As a result, the profits have tripled as well.
Today we are all at home. We all use Skype, Zoom or Hangout to arrange meetings. But a few months ago very few of us thought it could be efficient. And language lessons? No way – it can’t be done remotely. So, it looks like ‘kateit!’ with its methodology was simply ahead of its time. And today if you think of starting English lessons the first thing you should do is consider their offer. They know exactly how to do it because they have been doing it for a very long time. Moreover, they have a set of tools developed especially for them. They are bespoke and kateit! offer will fit your needs like the best tailor-made suit.