The BETT Show, held in London each year, is one of the largest education technology tradeshows in the world. It’s big and it’s exhausting.
Originally known as the British Educational Training and Technology Show, BETT has been running for more than 30 years, and attracts more than 35,000 visitors and hundreds of exhibitors. It’s held in the Excel, a vast exhibition hall on the banks of the Thames in the east end of London.
Nothing can completely prepare you for the sheer size of the event – walking from one end of the exhibition floor to the other takes 15 minutes, or longer, as you squeeze past hundreds of people packed along the aisles or hanging around exhibitor stands. Education and technology are rapidly colliding and sparking.
Anyone who is anyone in the EdTech universe is there, including Microsoft, Apple and Google, who each have large elaborate stands carefully designed to reflect their corporate image and brand.
Microsoft is all right angles, pale timber and slick video screens. Google is less formal and incorporates their ‘Google’ colours even into the benches. Apple has dozens of bright young things roaming around in trademark T-Shirts, jeans and runners.
Parent Paperwork at BETT
We spent the four days of BETT working with our UK partner Groupcall and meeting some terrific EdTech firms from all over the world.
Some countries, including Singapore and Israel, had stands showcasing groups of local EdTech firms. The United Arab Emirates had a stand devoted to recruiting British teachers to move to the UAE.
Groupcall’s stand was fantastic, one of the largest at BETT, and definitely with the largest video screen, a 9m LED video wall across the back (and yes we played the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer a few times late one afternoon!).
The set up was perfect, with multiple seating areas with large computers where you could sit down with a group of school representatives and demonstrate products, as well as free standing touch screens also running the demos.
We even had a visit from Sir Bob Geldof. You may know him as a musician, but he’s also an original investor in Groupcall, and regularly attends to BETT to spend time connecting with Groupcall users and edutech innovators at large.
It was fun watching visitors walk past the stand and do a double take when they saw Sir Bob! (And of course immediately pull out their phone for a selfie).
For us, it was our first major opportunity to showcase ParentPaperwork’s new integration with Groupcall’s Messenger school/parent communication platform.
We’re proud of this partnership – we’ve baked ParentPaperwork’s Parent Slips module deeply into Messenger, giving schools a seamless experience and all the benefits of replacing the paper forms they exchange with their parents.
I should also mention a fellow partner in Messenger, PEBS (Parent Evening Booking System).
Like us they have deeply integrated their parent teacher interview booking platform into Messenger, and their founder Will Mackenzie came down from Scotland to share time with us. He’s a fabulous guy, and already has hundreds of UK schools using PEBS.
I must confess, by the end of the last day my voice was almost gone, and my feet were killing me – I laughed I needed a foot spa to recover!
But this was a brilliant opportunity to talk to hundreds of people about ParentPaperwork, gauge their reaction, and solicit their feedback. We left BETT with a long list of interested school staffers.
Not one that I spoke with (and that was a great many) didn’t see the value of ParentPaperwork.
Once they had their ‘light bulb’ moment and connected in their mind the paper form problem with our solution, their enthusiasm was palpable. We can’t wait to see what happens next!