Graduation: Turning a Spark Into a Successful Business

During the course of his 12 years in the eLearning industry, Marius Prodana developed one of the first interactive Augmented Reality apps for educational use in 2010, in his native Romania. He co-founded Wand.Education in 2016 as a platform that aims to improve access to high-quality online learning for primary and secondary schools. The first iteration of the platform was entered into the GESS Dubai Innovation Awards and was a finalist. It was this that convinced Marius that the concept had potential to thrive as a fully-fledged business.

Initially a simple concept to help teachers create dynamic presentations using pre-built templates, the business has developed significantly in the years since its inception. Wand.Education uses real-time feedback from its users to consistently improve and broaden its scope for supporting the education sector. In essence, it helps to make teachers’ jobs easier, more efficient and allows them to win back their evenings and weekends.

As the proverb goes, necessity is the mother of invention and, as such, every emerging company faces the question of validity. So, how can aspiring business leaders turn a great spark into a functional business?


A better way

Turning an idea into a product is more an art than a science – there are no rights or wrongs. Every great business is born with that spark of inspiration, but a lack of research thereafter is the primary reason many of these sparks burn out.

As Teller, the famous magician, once said: “magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone might reasonably expect.” As such, analysis of the market is key. In highly-regulated sectors such as education and healthcare – where tools are created for professionals with years of experience – this phase can be challenging but also enlightening.

For any technology company, there’s nothing more disheartening than the idea that the “traditional” way of doing things is more useful than your product. In ed-tech, we are striving to create something more efficient and useful than using pen and paper, yet we find that many teachers still prefer print mediums to the growing market of digital alternatives. It was this thinking – that a fundamental change was needed in how technology supports the sector – with new innovations and better practices, that formed the idea for Wand.Education.

That’s where a spark can truly ignite; an underserved market has huge potential for your idea to make a difference. If a better, more proficient quality of service can be brought to the table, this is what you should set out to create. Strive to build that form of magic for your customers in creating a solution that is useful and impactful.

The right idea at the right time can change the landscape of any given sector. Take WhatsApp for example. Launched as a phonebook application with in-built ‘status updates’, it evolved into the revolutionary cross-platform messaging service we know today. With 1.5 billion users, it is the most popular messaging platform in the world.

With ‘right idea, right time’ in mind, in 2015 the idea for Wand.Education was pitched to our now-parent company, a business with a portfolio built around large-scale B2B projects. Just a year later, the initial incarnation of the technology was launched, and voted as a finalist in the Best Ed-Tech category at the GESS Dubai awards.


Overcoming adversity

As mentioned, going into an established sector with a new way of doing things can be extremely challenging. Start-ups in this field are often guilty of demanding people with years of experience to do things differently. This is a huge factor in why many startups fail; they tell experienced professionals how to do their job.

In this regard, it’s important to innovate without excluding the consumer. Build a platform that complements the existing practice, but with previously inaccessible benefits. One example is that, in creating common classroom activities, teachers would have to use multiple apps and platforms. This is time-consuming and likely to have a negative impact on students. Little wonder, then, that the pen and paper remain popular.

Wand.Education’s solution is introducing a technology which significantly cuts down on administration time and reporting tasks, whilst giving key insights on student progress and interactive, easily personalised content. Our focus is on giving teachers more time to focus on what matters most – teaching.

It’s also important to be flexible when working with a new concept. During the development process, we decided to alter the features within Wand.Education. Rather than asking teachers to create their own content, we worked with authors with vast experience in the education sector to create high-quality, ready-made content for teachers to use. And this should be the driving force behind any ed-tech start-up: providing the customer with the necessary tools to do their job effectively, in a way that suits them.


The impact

Just as Formula 1 engineers work tirelessly to gain 0.2 of a second to help them win the competition, measuring the success of your work is incredibly important for both business and customer. As a platform heavily focused on data, recording the positive impact Wand.Education has on education by looking at student results is thoroughly rewarding.

For all the market research and analysis, it’s incredible to see how new developments translate into benefits for those who are at the heart of the idea. Wand.Education’s ed-tech programs recently reached the milestone of working with 150 schools across the UK. We look forward to seeing how this technology benefits teachers and students for years to come.

And this is perhaps most important of all. Business leaders should ensure that they strive to keep the customer’s objectives at the heart of all they do. If they can consistently look to create and innovate, the initial idea has every chance of growing into – and thriving as – a fully-functional company.

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