ParentPaperwork CEO and Co-Founder Fiona Boyd reflects on the past two years and outlines changes to ParentPaperwork’s subscription pricing model.
Who would believe it’s been nearly two years since ParentPaperwork started in all earnestness after winning the first Startup Victoria Pitch Competition at the end of August 2014.
We had an early stage platform in beta from late May that year and a couple of trial customers helping us identify how to go about creating the most universal platform we could to replace paper forms in schools, but we really came out of the gate with some gusto after the pitch win.
What I loved most about this business from the beginning was that before one line of code was even written we were talking to our children’s teachers, principals and other school leadership about what issues most mattered to them in terms of compliance paperwork and all the issues of liability around that.
ParentPaperwork as a concept was born in a humble but practical way. Neither of the two co-founders, myself or David Eedle, loved the constant stream of excursion, incursion, rsvp, subject selection, music selection, etc forms that were coming home to us for signing for our three children. In a fit of pique after just one too many forms and a growing belief that schools just wanted to keep Mums busy signing things, I told David to take the form signing job on.
He did. And being an analytical, data driven kind of guy, within a few months he’d collected a stash of forms he’d signed, copied them, and then one Friday pizza night lined them up along the kitchen counter and said ‘I think we need to do this differently.’
David and I have a long history creating businesses together and our most successful venture to date, has been the online community Arts Hub, that we started in 2000 and sold to private investors in 2006. Arts Hub is going to celebrate its 16th birthday in October this year, something we’re very proud of.
Part of what made Arts Hub successful was that the systems David created really made sense to the people using them. The content management system was straight forward and easy-to-use and didn’t require special training. After checking out the limited CMS’s available at the time, most of them costing $2m a year or more to license, we realised we wouldn’t get Arts Hub away unless we built our own technology and in a way that was super easy for our writing team to use. Arts Hub is a jobs and news service for the arts industry worldwide and it was key to its success that content could be created, edited, displayed and published quickly and in a fuss free way.
So my point to David was, go talk to educators and find out what the forms issue is like from the schools side of the equation. We think as parents it’s cumbersome and annoying and easy to lose track of, but is it such a problem from the teacher or school administrator point-of-view? And please don’t develop a technology that is whizzy and cool but doesn’t really make lives easier for the people using it. After many meetings at our children’s schools and others who were willing to give us their insight, David sat down and created the ParentPaperwork platform.
With our first few sales we weren’t really clear what pricing model would work, so we deliberately pitched low and took a stab at pricing around student number tiers. As time moves on and the product has grown in sophistication, functional power and the uses by schools now numbers in the many hundreds, we realise that in order to grow the business and keep adding the new powerful functionality our current customers request from us, we need a better pricing model.
So, from 1 September 2016 we’ll be changing our pricing structure.
The current model is tiered to the number of students in a school and can be quite inequitable if you’re at the wrong end of the tier. Prices can range from $1.45 per student up to $5.00 per student within the current model.
With the new model we’ll be charging a flat per student price of $3.60 per year per module – so $3.60 per student for Parent Slips and $3.60 per student for School Forms.
After testing the new price with current customers and potential new schools we think the price is really attractive and the new model is much fairer.
But some of our current customers are probably thinking, ‘hey, we were at the good end of the pricing tier under the current model and the price works for us.’ Because we’ve had great input from our first few hundred schools that has helped us develop and grow ParentPaperwork in ways that really matter in schools, the team here has decided to grandfather the price of all schools signed before 1 September 2016 and that their price will only ever increase by CPI in the future.
For many of our schools that will mean that as long as you remain a subscriber to ParentPaperwork the price to your school can be as much as one third of the cost of a new school subscription post 1 September 2016.
If there are any schools in your network that you believe have been thinking about signing up to ParentPaperwork but have been sitting on the fence, please consider encouraging them to sign up before 1 September. We’re sure they’ll thank you for not only the cost and labour savings that flow naturally once ParentPaperwork is deployed but also the benefit of getting the best price possible.
I’m happy to take your referrals directly so please don’t hesitate to direct your colleagues to firstname.lastname@example.org.