Education company Satchel launched with the intention of reducing teacher workload with their software Show My Homework. But when the time came to expand outside of London, founder and ex-teacher Naimish Gohal struggled to gain traction. The “dead months” of school holidays were hurting cash flow and the education industry was resistant to change.
The first step for Gohal was to acknowledge that building business relationships would be crucial to Show My Homework’s success. As Gohal put it, everyone in sales wants to land a deal immediately, but that’s not how schools work. Selling to schools needed to be a long-term process. It was also important not to rush people – there were a limited number of schools, so accidentally ruining a relationship wasn’t an option.
Since the product could be a daunting prospect for more traditional teachers, the company decided to put as much emphasis on implementation, training and service as it did on customer acquisition. The team started travelling across the UK and going into schools in person. It helped Gohal to judge whether it was the right time to pitch. Sometimes schools were preparing for holidays, but the visit helped to lay the foundation for a relationship.
He noted that around 20 per cent of teachers were comfortable with technology, but 80 per cent were indifferent or didn’t understand how the software could make an impact. Gohal focused on this 80 per cent in each location and encouraged them to engage with the product. Once they were on board, schools were more inclined to adopt the product.
After two years of travelling across the country, Satchel started to get traction. It identified key levers for growth – getting in front of the right people – and doubled down on efforts.
Show My Homework is now used in 35 per cent of secondary schools across the UK and has over one million active users each week. Satchel’s team has grown to 68 staff, with more 15-20 more roles to fill.
“You have to really think about who your audience is and what else you can do to engage them,” Gohal said. “If you’re just starting to build these relationships, show that you believe in the quality of your product and service. And, most of all, go in with your eyes open and be ready for the slog ahead.”