“mySchoolNoteBook.com” is a web-based application for taking and sharing school notes.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Roz’ regarding his Company “mySchoolNoteBook.com”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “mySchoolNoteBook.com” is all about?
MySchoolNotebook.com is a web-based application for taking and sharing school notes. Users sign-in with their Facebook account or they register with an e-mail. Then they create well-arranged notebooks divided into topics and lessons that are automatically numbered and dated helping to stay organized.
Besides taking notes, users improve notes by using drawing tool or uploading files. They have an option to convert notes to PDF and print them out. When they miss class, they simply ask friends to share notes instantly with them.
Moreover, friends can allow them to edit notes or publish them so that anyone on the Internet can see them. In addition to the web version, mySchoolNotebook.com is available for iOS and Android containing audio recorder and a possibility of taking pictures.
Also, users do not have to worry about an Internet connection because mySchoolNotebook.com works offline thanks to HTML5.
2. When has “mySchoolNoteBook.com” been founded? And what stage is “mySchoolNoteBook.com” currently at?
The Czech version, on which the English one is based, was founded in 2009 but the English version was released at the end of year 2012. There is also a German version and together the application has about 40,000 users.
The company received a seed investment and used it for the application improvement and the development of English version.
After finding an investor in a near future, the company wants to establish an office in the United States and continuously work on the development of the application.
3. What is “mySchoolNoteBook.com”’s business model and how does it work?
MySchoolNotebook.com is offered for free right now. We want to increase our user base and receive useful feedback from users. However, we have new premium features prepared for which we will charge a fee in future.
Next, we want to develop customized versions of the application for educational institutions. In addition, we are working on a store where students will be able to sell they notes and we will receive a commission from these transactions.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
MySchoolNotebook.com is formed by just a few core members and external employees closely cooperating with the company. The founder and the CEO is Jakub Roz (18 years old), who came up with the idea while studying the Private High School of Computing Technology in Prague.
Besides technical knowledge, he wanted to use his business experience from other company he founded. He cooperated on other projects with Jan Kuca, our CTO, and together they founded mySchoolNotebook.com.
Jan is in charge of the application development and he oversees work of other developers.
The company also has a representative in the United States – Dagmar Volfova, who joined the company after learning about mySchoolNotebook.com’s plan to expand to the United States from articles and TV news and became its Sales&Marketing Manager.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
MySchoolNotebook.com is an application using the newest technologies responding to trends in the application development. Therefore, we use technology such as HTML5 or have different versions of the application for most common operating systems– all of them synchronized – in order to serve wide range of users.
We work carefully on the design of the application so that customers get the best user experience and it is easy for them to use the application.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “mySchoolNoteBook.com” achieved so far?
mySchoolNotebook.com has currently about 40,000 users. Between years 2010 and 2011 the number of users more than doubled and the user base has been increasing.
The important milestones were receiving a seed investment from the Swiss company BlackLex that allowed for the development of the application and lead to another milestone – going global with an English version and serving more students all over the world.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “mySchoolNoteBook.com”’s competitive advantage over them?
There are a few option for taking notes ranging from basic paper and pencil to using electronic devices with Word documents, Google Docs, or Evernote.
Paper and pencil are being rapidly replaced by electronic devices which more and more students bring to school and mySchoolNotebook.com is responding to this trend.
Also, none of the mentioned available options for electronic devices offer a service that would work best for individual students specifically taking school notes while offering highly organized structure with such easy sharing as mySchoolNotebook.com does.
They just serve for taking any kind of notes in which it is hard to navigate after some time.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
We are facing obstacles on every day basis as probably every startup ranging from technical issues to proving our value to customers. 90% of what we do we do in a wrong way but those successful 10% makes us happy and that is why we do it.
Internet has been evolving rapidly and always changing so we are learning every day. It is not easy but that is what makes our work interesting.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
People may not realize how demanding it is to make sure everything works well from the technological side. It is necessary to find a good team of people who know what they are doing and are able to resolve any issues that come up.
Also, regarding education, there are still many school that do not support use of technology in education as well as it is challenging to gain their trust and convince them about usefulness of such product.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
MySchoolNotebook.com has members of team who have experience in their fields and they keep up with trends and news necessary for success.
Most of them are students themselves; therefore, they clearly understand needs of students from their own experience and from experience of their friends and classmates.
That gives us a useful insight into our target group that other companies may lack. Also, as mentioned before, mySchoolNotebook.com responds to an increasing trend of bringing electronic devices to school which gives it a big present and future potential.
11. If “mySchoolNoteBook.com” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We are able to expand to almost any area connected to technology in education. Regarding our own plans, we want to open a School store where students will be able to sell their notes for a price they set.
Also, we are preparing a website called EduMashup.com which will serve as a useful source of news, trends, and statistics about educational technology for anyone interested in this area.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “mySchoolNoteBook.com” based on?
The idea of mySchoolNotebook.com first appeared when the CEO Jakub Roz wanted to solve his own problem of taking school notes effectively and being able to get notes from missed class easily.
He developed a first version of mySchoolNotebook.com for himself. However, his classmates liked the idea and wanted to use it as well. Therefore, Jakub decided to make the application available to any student who would like to use it.
Together with the CFO Jan Kuca they developed the current Czech version of mySchoolNotebook.com. Due to its success in the country of its origin, the Czech Republic, they realized that it can become a useful tool for students all over the world and released a global English version followed by a German version.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We learned that it is hard to reach a breakpoint at which the company starts to be profitable.
It is not like in case of doing classical business where you start making money much sooner. Startup like ours requires a lot of initial investment because there are very high development costs and 90% of startups make money when they sell the company.
However, it is important to persist and find a good team of people. Right employees represent the key to success.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Our biggest problem will be to find an investor so that we can open an office in the United States in order to reach out to many of our customers more easily and increase our user base.
Next, it will be challenging to cooperate with schools and convince them that technology is important and beneficial to education if used in a right way.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
One of the biggest benefits for our users is having all notes at one single spot accessible anytime from any device while safely stored at our server.
There is no need for numbers of heavy paper notebooks or Internet connection.
Moreover, they get missing school notes easily without much effort. This fact helps them to be always ready for their classes or upcoming tests.
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
At the beginning users found out about the application because they saw our CEO using in at school.
They wanted to try it and it got among other students and schools by word of mouth.
In addition, Jakub was already doing different business and he was involved in the Czech technology scene where people were interested in his new project.
Many leading newspapers, blogs, and TV stations heard about its popularity among students and started to feature the application on a regular basis.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
Our current and at the same time target users are students of high schools and universities between the age of 15 and 25.
They enjoy using technology, which they tend to bring to school, and they mostly need to take notes in order to do well in their studies.
However, there are also schools supporting the use of technology in case of younger children who may find myShcoolNotebook.com useful as well.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Many of our users are students that are interested in technology and at the same time they do take notes during their classes.
When they try our application, if often becomes a useful tool they use on almost every day basis.
They also enjoy the fact that it was developed by their peer and are interested in seeing what even such a young student as our CEO Jakub can create.
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
Our users mostly say that mySchoolNotebook.com is something they have been looking for.
They describe their experience with other note taking services and point out that they are too disorganized for them.
Also, they like the fact that they can use mySchoolNotebook.com on any device their own and notes are always automatically synchronized among these devices.
20. How are you going to scale?
mySchoolNotebook.com is a fully scalable service which makes our business possibilities unlimited.
Our company is always using the newest technologies in order to cover students from all over the world who have constant need for taking school notes.
Therefore, mySchoolNotebook.com can increase the user base without worrying about the technical side much.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
We are offering many different useful features in all of our versions. One of them is formatting of text in the text field when users take their notes.
However, this feature is not available on mobile devices. Customers ask for this feature often but it is a question of technological problem.
Unfortunately, it is not an easy task to develop formatting if text for mobile devices.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Our company has already expanded internationally. It happened when the global English version was released as well as the version for German speaking students.
However, we are still based in the Czech Republic and we do not have an official location in the United States; only a representative.
We would like to establish an American company with an official office in the USA if we find an investor.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
As presented before, our application was able to double its user base during one year.
With release of the global version, we would like to get to 6 digits number in case of number of our users by cooperating with schools and universities one by one and acquiring ambassadors representing mySchoolNotebook.com at these institutions.
Also, by pursuing other projects such as School store and EduMashup, we would like to become Google in education.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
At our stage with limited resources, we are not planning any extensive hiring for different position.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
Right now, we are in search of an investment in the amount around $1 million in order to establish mentioned location in the United States.
This amount is somewhere at the edge between Angel and Venture capital and the investor should rather be a financial investor than strategic one.
In case of interest or receiving more information, investors can contact our US Representative Dagmar Volfova at email@example.com or +1 312 961 4713 or our CEO Jakub Roz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Our advice is simple: Don’t be afraid, start working, and persist!