All - My company has been trying to sell parent-centric solutions to schools and districts for several years now without too much success. Our original focus was on private schools but our solution is more suited to districts and even an entire state.
It has been suggested that we try to find a channel partner, reseller or strategic partnership. I checked around but haven't seen how I can start the process. Anyone done this before? Any help would be appreciated.
I have been involved as an agent, helping entrepreneurs find channel partners or distributors in the education space. I am also the author for a family engagement program for Title 1; not sure if your "parent-centric" solution would be a fit. You are welcome to contact me and we can discuss.
Hi Barry. Just had a look at MyDiem, the parent app marketplace is very crowded no matter what country you are in - I'm Australian based and I can think of 6 products in the market, all with similar pitches and that's for a market of 10,000 schools compared to the USA's size. My company also operates in the UK and same situation there.
It means it's a race to the bottom on price so you need a heck of a lot of customers to make money. Average pricing on a parent app in Australia is $1 a year or less, in the UK companies like ParentMail.co.uk charge even less than that - but they have 6,000 schools in Britain.
In the US there's products like SchoolMessenger who have a massive share of the market - think I read 50% of school districts.
Which gets me to my question - have you identified the reasons why you have not had 'much success'?
What are the blockers? Price? Features?
If you are pitching to a customer who is using one of the other apps, then even harder because you are asking them to change - is that often the case?
The issue to address before going down the path of finding someone to sell your product for you is to stocktake and make sure they will be able to sell it. And given the pricing in the market, is there enough meat on the bone for you and the distributor to both make money?
I may be able to help. It seems to me that your solution is a perfect white label solution as well as a channel/reseller play. I did a transaction with Ellucian recently that I'd be happy to discuss with you.
Lisa - thank you so much for your response. I sent you a contact request.
David - thank you so much for your response. It is incredibly helpful because it tells me that our website messaging needs to be improved/ changed. While part of the solution is the mobile app, our solution has more to do with school to parent and parent to parent interactions. Our old website spoke more about "Parent Connect" than the current iteration which is mobile centric.
Our solution is parent focused. It brings together many tools that classroom parents need like event calendars, parent directories, emergency notifications, photo sharing, signup sheets, shared documents, classroom payments and other items. Most apps do not cover these functions, especially signup sheets which is where we have seen the most praise.
The platform was built because my wife was put in charge of managing our school's Room Parents and there wasn't a single solution that had all the tools she needed. She ended up using 6 different sites to manage parent communications and her own schedule. The idea of MyDiem is to bring all these functions together in a single secure place that can be used by multiple schools.
In our case, two of our children’s schools use it and all we need to do is login to one place to get the information we need. Our solution is a little different because we seek to combine calendars and school directories, signups into a single site where-as other solutions appear to be school specific.
To answer your question: We have 20 schools in the Bay Area and we have them because of personal contacts and a somewhat unique situation where many families have kids at different schools. Also, oddly enough, school apps haven’t taken hold yet. While some of the high schools might have them, most schools are telling their parents to login to the website for information. This is where we might be behind the Australia and the UK.
I think our biggest issue has been a lack of dedicated sales people or a lack of strategy. The team seems to be great at creating technology to solve a problem but not so good at communicating and selling. We know this and are working to shore-up the weakness.
As I mentioned, most schools in the US don’t have an app which is why we decided to lead with our app solution. Pricing was probably an issue initially. We have recently dropped the price to $1.00/ $3. Jury is still out as this is a recent change.
Note that in the US most solutions start at $1 but most end up being more due to add-ons. SchoolMessenger systems cost $1 to $4 per student.
We believe that even with a commission, there would be enough money for all parties to be satisfied.
In short, we have done well in the Bay Area because of personal contacts and an ability to personally sell. Last year, we tried “passive sales” but that didn’t work so now we would like to partner with someone to see if that strategy could play to everyone’s strengths.
We are hoping our ability to have a single app for everyone in a district (or state – CalDiem.com) as opposed to an app per school is a unique differentiator that might be make our solution compelling to a partner.
Thank you again for your comments. Your questions were good ones and I hope I addressed most of them.
Bob - thanks for response. We feel there are several directions we could take but most of them would require some kind of sales force. We might be better off just being a solution provider and leaving the sales to those who have those skills.
It would be great to chat.