Co-founders Phil Slade and Roshelle Weir believe that most of the world’s social, economic, political and environmental challenges can be solved by improving emotional intelligence, and in turn individual decision making.
With Phil being a registered psychologist and Roshelle a learning and development expert, they decided to join forces and create Switch4Schools with the aim of improving student wellbeing.
Switch4Schools is a revolutionary SaaS (software as a service) platform that helps teachers monitor and manage mental health in the classroom, and builds emotional intelligence, self-regulation, and critical thinking skills in students.
Switch4Schools received $100,000 in Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Round 9 funding and will use their grant to expand into regional and remote Queensland and visit to help onboard these schools.
We caught up with Phil and Roshelle to learn more about their product and how the Ignite Ideas Fund will help their business grow.
What inspired you to start your business?
With the classroom being the social intersection between families and the community, we saw that by focusing on the classroom we can impact entire communities. We also saw that a lot of support services were very city centric, so we wanted to build something that can impact people wherever they are, whatever their circumstance.
What milestones have been reached?
With more than 30 schools using the platform, we’ve had more than 10,000 student check-ins each month. For the schools that have used the platform for more than six months, 95 per cent of teachers are checking in their classes more than three times per week.
What achievements are you most proud of to date?
We bootstrapped Switch4Schools and have been able to build the platform with a completely human-centred design approach – and our efforts are paying off!
We have lots of schools using the platform – from small country schools to large city schools – who are loving it, with many stories of how it’s changed kids’ lives.
One school we’ve been working with is Samford State School in Brisbane. They’ve been using the Switch4Schools platform for 10 months and have seen:
- A 64 per cent reduction in behavioural incidents
- An 80 per cent reduction in suspensions
- Daily incidents reduced by 36 per cent
What are your business goals over the next 12-24 months?
Over the next year or two we’ve set our sights on some goals, including:
- Being the preferred student wellbeing platform across Australia that’s being used by the majority of schools
- We want to see more than 1 million check-ins recorded each week and 0 critical incidents (such as life-threatening events) recorded
- We’d like to expand into European and American schools
- We’re aiming for more than 1 million artificial intelligence-driven suggestions pushed to individual students
How will use your Ignite Ideas funding?
We’ll use our Ignite Ideas funding to market to regional Queensland schools and sponsor key principals’ conferences and teacher support networks. We’re also going to take ‘the show on the road’ and visit regional and remote schools to help onboard Switch4Schools and further support their wellbeing programs.
How will this funding assist your business to grow and/or create jobs?
The funding is invaluable for us as it’ll help us engage marketers and generate new business. This will then lead to more jobs, like account managers, and connections to psychologists and other wellbeing experts from all areas of Queensland.
But it’s not just the money, it’s the brand association with the Ignite Ideas Fund and Advance Queensland that is incredibly valuable to us. By being chosen to receive funding from Ignite Ideas is an incredible endorsement and validation. We are extremely humbled and grateful and do not take this for granted.
Why would you recommend applying for Advance Queensland programs, such as the Ignite Ideas Fund?
It allows companies that are making a real difference in the community to grow and let people know they exist. One of the common comments we hear from customers is “why didn’t we hear about this earlier?” Funding allows us to increase our salience in the marketplace and reach schools and students that would otherwise be very hard to reach.
Why is it important to support Queensland businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs?
We think that promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship helps grow and diversify Queensland business, makes the economy more resilient and robust, and helps people of all backgrounds to fulfil their potential. By actively stimulating entrepreneurial enterprises towards the goal of becoming a world-leading business, we are creating the engine wheel to enable better communities and happier, healthier lives.
What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs and businesses starting out on their innovation journey?
We’re always hesitant to give advice to others when we ourselves feel like we’re only so early in our own journey and learning so many new things every day. But here are a few things that come to mind:
- Starting a business is one of the hardest and emotionally challenging things you do, make sure you have the right people around you. If you are lucky enough to find co-founder who you like and shares your vision, never take that for granted.
- Better to aim high and miss than aim low and hit.
- Just. Keep. Going. ‘No’ usually means ‘not yet’.
- Love connecting and dealing with people. Love people generally.
- It’s OK to walk. Some days will feel like winning, but most don’t. Don’t compare your rate of success with anyone else.
- Ideas are cheap, implementation is where the magic happens.
- Listen to your customers. The ones who can listen and respond to customers’ needs the fastest will win.
- Don’t fear losing intellectual property. Protect it wherever possible of course, but don’t overcomplicate opportunities and potential partnerships out of fear.
- You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room.
- Maintain good mental and physical health and cultivate a healthy ego without letting it rule you. Pride and ego are the anaesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity and blinds you to reality.