“We now supply all aspects of what a student needs to learn, whether it’s a physical textbook, stationery or a resource pack,” Dobinson says.
“We improve the learning lives of students, with technology that allows students to read a textbook in more than 80 different languages, which provides for learning diversity support for students that have specific learning requirements to be able to adjust the text to meet their specific needs .”
From a start-up with one employee in 2018, Box of Books now has nearly 40 employees. Retention rates among schools are high, with 98 percent retaining the service the following year.
Despite demonstrable growth, like everyone in tech, it’s been tough to secure talent, which remains a challenge, Dobinson admits.
More than 250 secondary schools will be using the platform in 2023, but the size of the market is gigantic. There are 2700 secondary schools and 1.6 million students in Australia alone.
Box of Books has been on an educational journey of its own, realizing that it needed to first educate schools on the benefits it offered. Getting a foot in the principal’s door has not always been easy.
“We’ve effectively had to push the education of what our service can do and demonstrate that to schools to ensure they can clearly see the benefits that we offer,” he says.
Courses for careers
Launching four years ago, Get My Course, which has hit the AFR Fast Starters list, helps people working in the community sector to map their career goals and gain the qualifications needed to reach those goals. They have partnered with a dozen training companies across Australia, funneling students into these courses.
The co-founders, Darshan Chavan and Rejin Rajan, met when they were international students, forking over $2000 to attend a Tony Robbins conference. Neither of them expected the direction of their lives would change forever.
Chavan found himself sitting next to Rajan. Both were motivated and searching for some inspiration to build a new career direction. They started chatting during the breaks, and realized they had similar career goals.
“Training companies are great at training, but they need some assistance in marketing and enrolling students, which is where we come in. We fill that gap for them. There are a lot of people in the community sector who need to upskill, and we help them navigate their career path through upskilling,” Chavan says.
“A key challenge out there is helping students get into courses. We also help people with skills in childcare, aged care or the disability sector get certified for those skills, without the need to study for years. And these students see the value that we provide and they come back looking for other services.”
A big focus for the pair is working with people who are part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“Some people working with the NDIS need further training to bring in more value, so we’re trying to bridge that gap and look at how to build their skills. The more skilled and knowledgeable they are, the better the scheme works,” Chavan says.
It’s a simple idea that has enabled them to build a profitable business, thriving during the pandemic, given it became a period of career and life reflection for many. They now employ 52 staff, who have themselves undertaken intensive training to understand the industry.
But there are, of course, challenges. Managing a scaling business isn’t for the faint-hearted, Chavan says. “We have three mentors who are experts in sales, leadership and scaling who are guiding us in the right direction.”