Dr. Wendy Oke of Teachkloud
21st July 2020
Launching a business can be daunting and exciting in equal measures. For our Women Who Launch July candidate, we hear from Dr. Wendy Oke of Teachkloud / Kloud Academy https://www.teachkloud.com/
THE ELEVATOR PITCH
The TeachKloud app helps childcare services excel at inspections, communicate with parents, digitise staff records, business operations and curriculum standards.
TeachKloud is based in Cork, Ireland. We’re a small team with dedicated software engineers, sales and consultants. The goal is to be the leading software application for childcare services in English speaking countries.
The power of a quality early education took my grandfather from a makeshift hut to a supreme court judge. His mother always prioritised education and would often skip meals, to pay for his school fees. As a direct result, the value and power of education has been ingrained in our family’s history and directly inspired me to obtain a degree, masters and PhD in early years education. It was during my studies and while working in early childhood services that I discovered that despite the dedication and quality of teachers, they were spending more time on paperwork, 2-4 hours per day and less time focused on child development. I started TeachKloud to support teachers in complying with regulations, documenting quality practice and to improve parent communication.
TeachKloud is different because it focuses on best practice in education by providing automatic safety and educational suggestions, is comprehensive for any type of business owner, can be customised and each feature is mapped to regulatory standards that inspectors look for.
Sales and fundraising – TeachKloud raised €750K in January 2020 and we also were selling into schools until Covid-19 started. During this time, we have focused on redeveloping TeachKloud to re-launch in September 2020. We have also developed Kloud Academy which is a video library for children with videos for homeschooling parents and teachers on everything from singing, dancing, cooking and learning magic tricks.
TeachKloud’s customers are childcare service owners in Ireland and the UK who want to reduce their paperwork, excel at inspections, improve operations and communication with parents.
HOW HAVE YOU HAD TO ADJUST YOUR WAY OF WORKING IN RECENT MONTHS?
It has not been much of a change. As a software company, we’re well-versed in using applications to communicate internally and with customers. We did, however, have to re-focus and re-strategise because of school closures. Covid-19 slowed sales but also gave us the opportunity to redevelop an intuitive and intelligent childcare management software that will revolutionise the way childcare teachers work, communicate and demonstrate compliance. The Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland have been extremely helpful. In the past, we have also availed of mentoring services and are still working with that mentor who has been an amazing resource during the Covid-19 pandemic.
HAS IT ALL BEEN CHALLENGING OR ARE THERE ‘SILVER LININGS’?
With school closures and reduced sales, we were able to focus on improving TeachKloud, integrate new features to help childcare services comply with the new restrictions posed by Covid-19 and customise it so that it can be used by any childcare service in the world when childcare services fully re-open in September. We also started to run free webinars on important topics like re-opening childcare services during Covid-19 and even one on trauma and supporting children. Our first webinar had over 1800 registrants. It showed me that there is an appetitive in the childcare industry for continuous improvement and that TeachKloud can empower childcare teachers to speak their truth and support one another. We’re also developing our homeschooling programme Kloud Academy.
BRANDS YOU LOVE
A particular brand does not come to mind but I love companies that are in niche markets and bring immense value for industries that have been overlooked. I love when I hear about a company or idea and think, wow, hasn’t someone done that before.
BIGGEST ‘WIN’ TO DATE
It’s been an amazing journey so far. It has been challenging and similar to a roller-coaster ride. I could say that our biggest win was raising finance or winning a large customer but that wouldn’t be true. The biggest win to date for me was the moment we receive heart-felt thank you messages from customers. The first time this happened it proved that we had developed something of value and that we were, as the customer explained, “changing the way I run my business.”
BIGGEST ‘SLAP IN THE FACE’
“You won’t succeed, no one will ever buy this and even if they do, why would they ever buy from you?” I must say that I do love comments like these because it forces me to look at it from the other persons view and find evidence to support or discount their statement.
ARE YOU SOCIAL WHEN IT COMES TO MEDIA?
Social media is great for raising awareness on the brand and championing our customers. For example, one of the videos we did with a childcare provider, where she explains the challenges of running a service and possible solutions to help other childcare owners has over 12K views. Our video on the day in the life of a preschool teacher has over 65K views. In general, it’s less about social media and more about implementing a consistent digital strategy that speaks to your customer base. I am saying this like I have it all figured out, I can assure you that I do not but learning every day keeps me motivated.
IS THERE A BUSINESS MODEL YOU WOULD LIKE TO EMULATE?
The only business I’d like to emulate is one that is the right fit for my customers and brings value to the betterment of their businesses.
ON TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
I love looking ahead and applying new digital trends to current challenges. I believe that Artificial Intelligence is going to change the world as we know it – it already is.
IF YOU HAD A BLANK CHEQUE
•Buy my mum a HUGE house with a swimming pool, in Hawaii
•Start a fund for teachers who make a difference in children’s lives. Those teachers who you will never hear about. Those teachers who use their own money to buy school supplies, give children lifts to school or buy lunch for children from disadvantaged communities.
•Hire the most talented people to speed up innovation at TeachKloud, invest heavily in marketing and give Kloud Academy to children who may not be able to access quality education.
YOUR TRAITS – BEST & WORST
BEST BUSINESS LUNCH DATE
IDEAL BUSINESS PARTNER
BEST BUSINESS ADVICE
“Launch before you think you’re ready to and build something that matters.”