The SchoolHub app eliminates all the hassle associated with making school payments, including buying uniforms, paying for tuck shops, and paying for field trips.
Back to school is here, and if you’re a parent, you could feel stressed out just thinking about all the paperwork and logistics involved. Will Edgcumbe, a dad from KwaZulu-Natal, has been there.
When his kids were old enough to attend pre-primary school, he says, “We were really shocked at how many requests there were to bring in R5 for a hot dog or R10 for civvies day.
In an increasingly cashless society, it can be difficult to locate exact change, and it can be difficult for schools to manage these little sums and determine which students have paid and which have not.
There had to be “a better way” ,felt Edgcumbe and his colleagues, who were also parents. Edgcumbe was the operations director for a technology business.
Their secure, clever SchoolHub app was inspired by this, and it takes all the agony out of school payments, from paying school tuition and buying uniforms to ad-hoc stuff like tuck-shop purchases and excursion payments.
He argues that the previous company had already developed a potent e-commerce system and had experience creating mobile apps. Therefore, we decided to develop an app and introduce it to our children’s schools so that we wouldn’t have to constantly dig through our couches’ cushions for spare change. Before we knew it, a few schools had joined up.
According to Edgcumbe, “We’re very much a local business, and we want to assist local schools.”
The team, which included technical director Frank Dawson, sales and customer support agent Kim Botha, and “an amazing development and ICT team,” was led by Jared Krause, the “main driving force behind the business,” and they piloted the app at Amanzimtoti Primary School (a school none of their children attend) after learning that its separate uniform and tuck shop businesses could benefit from a technological upgrade.
Growth has been gradual but consistent ever since. According to Edgcumbe, SchoolHub is now utilized in five schools in the Durban region. The market’s viability has been established in its early stages of testing, and response has been “very favorable.”
It was “a big deal” to be chosen in 2021 as one of the 12 businesses backed by insurer Hollard’s Big Ads for Small Business project, which aims to give SMMEs marketing support to secure their long-term success and generate a ripple effect of “better futures” for communities and the national economy.
We’re a small, independently funded company, therefore sponsored advertising is an expensive route to take. We would never have gotten as much publicity without Hollard’s backing.
A simple, cashless remedy
According to Edgcumbe, managing cash that arrives in dribs and drabs is a nightmare for schools. In addition to consolidating all payments made through the system, our system sends the school a full set of books each month along with a reporting package, making it simple for them to track who made what payment when. We also offer daily live reports that include information on all sales and payments.
“For parents, the benefits are clear; there is no need to search for oddly precise currency amounts, such as R16 for civvies day, as there is only one easy payment via the app. Parents can also load credit for their kids at tuck shops so they won’t go bananas and spend all their money on candy. Parents can order wholesome tuck shop alternatives in advance.
The team can “rotate very fast to provide schools what they want” because they own and manage the firm themselves, according to Edgcumbe. For some, we combined with tiny POS [point-of-sale] printers; for others, we modified how items are scheduled.
We also value the personal touch, thus any one of us is available to our customers by phone.
SchoolHub will function on any smartphone, even the most basic models, therefore the prospective consumer target market is roughly the same size as the parent population of any specific school. “2023 enters the picture here. We want SchoolHub to be accessible throughout the nation!
The initial objective is to increase the app’s presence in South Africa; but, Edgcumbe thinks the idea might help schools elsewhere on the continent, “where app usage and mobile penetration – and comfort with transacting within an app – is generally pretty strong.”
And we believe that SchoolHub is a fantastic way for schools with limited administrative resources or stretched resources to relieve some of that pressure.
We’ll be entering some awards once we have a larger national presence; fingers crossed we do well! The biggest incentive, though, comes from simply doing good business with the parents and schools we sponsor.
There have been challenges along the way. “People are generally averse to change, and doing something the same way you’ve always done it is really comfortable, even if it’s ineffective or challenging.
Convincing schools and parents that there is a better method to handle school payments has thus been the main hurdle, but those parents who use SchoolHub enjoy it! says Edgcumbe.
The presence of one or two competing school payment solutions with significant national footprints, largely as a result of active corporate funding, presents a different difficulty.
It will be a fun but difficult exercise to take on these major businesses because we think our app is the better option.