Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Frank Lucisano from ScopeIT Education.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
ScopeIT Education is a full-service, turn-key solution for primary schools across Australia to have their students learn technology-based subjects. Courses are tightly integrated with the Board of Studies curriculum providing lessons on learning to code, building websites, creating apps, 3D printing and design, Arduino, robotics, Google research and Digital Citizenship which includes online behaviour and safety.
We provide the entire solution to the school, bringing the hardware, software, internet connection, lesson plans and even 'Scopers', our own professional and fully trained instructors.
The business has been developed using a franchise model, with business owners responsible for their own territory of schools, and we are spreading across Australia and New Zealand as we source people wanting to be part of the team.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
I seldom follow the usual path in business nor use conventional methodologies. I knew what I wanted to achieve as a business model from the outset and I was faced with finding the right skill set to form a team.
Being a strong advocate of invested partners, I found four partners who believed in the product and the business model and sold equity to them for capital and human resource skills. In this way, it was self-funded for launch from day one.
I love developing low-risk and creative business models. Our growth is predominantly focused around securing new franchisees to invest and deploy our services. We are also seeking "top tier" strategic partners to assist the growth of our network across Australia.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Like almost every other business, it's marketing. This is why we are looking for strategic business partnerships and alliances. We are facing a huge challenge in firstly getting the message to schools about why it's important for kids to learn to code and master the computer as a "tool" rather than a consumption device. Schools which recognise that need have had no problem taking the next step of utilising our service, but that first step is quite hard in the face of many decades of somewhat "locked in stone" school system subjects.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
In one word it's "quality". We have developed a high-quality product that can be consistently taught in any school, and because of our business model we can do so at a very low per student cost. ScopeIT Education was founded on the principles of education and our focus is being fully integrated with the school curriculum. We believe in being part of the ongoing school term and having measurable outcomes, not simply turning up and teaching kids a few lines of code. Students can publish their apps to showcase their creations to their friends and family, and can enter their finished products in our own competitions to win scholarships and other amazing prizes.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Google Docs (and Gmail). Just like many new businesses we utilise this as both a creation and collaborative tool. It is absolutely invaluable to me. Being a startup and with partners that all need to work seven days per week wherever they may be means being online, connected and available is essential to success.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
"There's always a solution". I have a personal saying that business itself is just a process of solving problems and finding a financial model to monetise it. Knowing there's always a solution means there's always business opportunities. All the great ideas are NOT taken. Every day someone starts a million dollar business and there's no reason it can't be you.
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