I had an opportunity to present a Schoolze demo to a chain of preschools a while back. The experience came out to be a dream come true for any entrepreneur. Here is the story -
April 2016 - I got invited to the international chain of a preschool association that were organizing their annual meeting. Activities started on Thursday and were supposed to go until Sunday with the annual meeting scheduled for Saturday until 8 pm. I was scheduled for a 30-minute demo at 8.30 PM after the annual meeting.
The Initial 2 days were fun attending the sessions and visiting local preschools and passed rather quickly. The demo started at 8.30 pm on Saturday and was joined by six regional council heads and the international president.
As I started explaining the classroom parental engagement product of Schoolze, excitement in the room gradually went up leading to questions and comments. 30 minutes into the demo I was only done with 25% of the presentation due to interest. And it was then that the president spoke for the first time -
"This is it. This is actually how to build a co-op."
"Instead of me giving you a book that you have to read, that was written in 1976, this is it [sic][ie this should be given]" the president commented further, "It tells you what you need, that you need to set up conferences, and that you that you need a sub". "I am telling you - it will resolve so many of the conflicts that school has in the management because when the board changes and that person replaces another, this solves all that hiccups."
I was pumped with the response and continued the demo with even more energy, that's when the head of a regional council spoke - "We see it only gets better as we see more. Do you all see that too?"
This is when the best one came - "I've been quiet for some time, but this is f***ing great [giggles and claps] Can we be your trial Council?" said the council head. [giggles and claps continued]
As any entrepreneur can relate to this - I was frozen and speechless for a minute on this overwhelming customer validation, and that's when the next one came from the president - "Let me give you an elevator pitch for this and you can use that in your meetings." - This platform can save a failing school and make already successful one even better."
Let's take a pause here and process what just happened - A potential high profile international customer, sees a demo of your product, reverse engineers your mission statement, and gives it to you! How many times does this happen? Must I say - it was the most amazing feeling to hear those words about Schoolze.
By this time we were 11 months into bootstrapping Schoolze and were trying hard to make the unit economy click, and this feedback made all that hard work worth it. I remember calling Nirmal that night at 3 am, and he was met with the same overwhelming adrenaline rush.
That day, Schoolze forever changed from a "Parental Engagement" platform to a "School Success platform" and our focus grew into everything that makes a school successful. We continued the negotiations with the group and also landed up onboarding a few co-ops on the Schoolze platform but that story is for the next post :).
Write in the comments if you have a similar mission transformation story where customer response elevated you & your startup in a game-changing way.
Until next - Avneesh
Originally published June 3, 2018