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Jul 30, 2015 10:26 AM ET

Archived: Earwig Academic Timelines: a software business that brings school technology into the 21st century

iCrowdNewswire - Jul 30, 2015

Earwig Academic Timelines

Earwig Academic Timelines


The Idea

Timelines for Schools’ 

Earwig is a software package and app designed to bring school communications into the 21st century.  It enables teachers to create vivid timelines containing images, documents and video, showing the progress of every pupil.

School staff save time, can monitor standards and are always ready for an Ofsted inspection. Parents can also see their child’s timeline, which engages them and motivates pupils, with no additional staff effort.

Parents are able to buy the images and videos. The commission to the school from this means that the package can be provided at no net cost to the school, but at a substantial profit to the company.

The company has already received substantial recognition in the industry; Earwig was used as an example of how technology is improving education by The Department of Education, Earwig was described by The Daily Telegraph as “The app that is lightening the load for hard-pressed teachers” and Earwig was a finalist as ICT company of the year for both The Inquirer Magazine’s Tech Hero awards and a 2015 BETT award (BETT is the most prestigious technology in education exhibition and awards). 


What’s the problem?

Schools are under constant pressure from Ofsted to provide documentary evidence of the progress of each child in every area of learning and at every level from Nursery to A Levels. We’ve found that the arrival of technology, particularly smartphones and tablets in schools means that teachers increasingly use photos, document scans and video to record everything from test scores to field trips. However, they currently have no convenient way to organise or present these. Printing images and making notes can take up huge amounts of expensive teacher time which would be better spent preparing and teaching. This provides the opportunity.


Our Solution

Earwig is a combination of app and software package which allows teachers to capture and tag images, documents and video, so that they are automatically available as a dynamic timeline, showing the progress being made by each pupil. With a couple of clicks it will provide a current timeline for every teacher, subject, group, team, key stage and, most importantly, each individual child. This cuts the time spent recording teaching evidence by 50% and means that the presentation of this, is hugely improved.

Each parent gets an Earwig login, which provides a real-time window into their children’s education and makes them feel part of the process  –  another area in which schools are under pressure to improve. This, of course, motivates the child to do better. There is lots more about this on the Earwig website, but to see an example of what a parents sees, go towww.earwig.uk.com and log in using example@earwig.com and password

In this way, Earwig is able to provide schools with an invaluable tool which:

  • cuts teacher workloads
  • enables efficient and vivid progress assessment
  • enhances management of teaching standards and Ofsted reporting
  • delights parents
  • increases pupil motivation
  • provides a fantastic and permanent record of each child’s school life


What about competition?

As far as we are aware, there is currently nothing like Earwig, not just in the UK, but anywhere in the world. The technology has been built for high volumes and international operation, although the initial focus will be on the UK.

This provides Earwig with an opportunity to define the way teaching evidence is presented and disseminated and to become central to school operations, not just in the UK, but wherever there are teachers and parents who want to work together to improve education standards.


How We Make Money

The Earwig business model has an unusual combination of features which make this a remarkably low risk, high reward, investment proposition.

We charge an annual licence fee to the school. For the basic Earwig service it’s £2.50 per pupil per year, plus extra for additional modules. This means that each school continues to generate this revenue for many years, providing an inexorably rising, very high margin, income stream, as each new school is added to the customer list.

Within a year of each school contract, we start selling the images and video clips to parents. This is expected to generate between £5 and £20 per year per child, multiplying annual sales per school by about 400%.

Once Earwig is embedded and parents have been invited to access their children’s timelines, the process develops a tremendous momentum and it is then very unlikely that a school will either stop using it or move to an alternative (should one ever arise).

Sales of images and image based products (prints, photobooks, videos) take a while to take off but can be expected to build, year on year, as children move through the school. 


What We Have Achieved

The Earwig software package was the idea of Owen Jamieson an ex-teacher, who understood the problems teachers face. He got together with Joe Ryan, a software sales specialist, who pulled together the perfect team, created the Earwig proposition and raised £285,000 from founders, friends and private investors.

We spent 2013 specifying, building, testing and refining the platform and then came to Crowdcube early last year to raise £132,000 to beta test the product in schools and demonstrate that it would do the job and delight both teachers and parents.


What We Achieved Since Our Last Crowdcube Round

When we came to Crowdcube late in 2013 we had only a couple of early bird schools signed up for a free test of the system. From this standing start, we have signed up 80 more schools, all of which are paying the full fee. These are all now at various stages of their first year build-up period, but already teachers are uploading 3,000 images and 100 video clips into the Earwig system every week and the Earwig image bank has just topped 100,000 images.

On the back of this success, the company has now taken on a few experienced educational software sales agents and has signed contracts with RM Education, the largest educational software business in Britain. This is a big breakthrough as RM sell more than £100m of software and services to the UK education industry We are also in negotiation with other large school software providers to link Earwig into their educational platforms. These contracts are expected to provide a big increase in school signups in 2016.



So Earwig is beginning to achieve some momentum and education experts are already starting to wax lyrical about it. Check the latest post in the Earwig blog https://earwigacademic.wordpress.com.

Earwig has already been selected as one of the Technology Companies of the Year in the BETT Awards, the largest educational awards scheme in Britain and has been selected by the Department of Education for a video case study on how technology can improve education.

Check out the Earwig Teachers to Teachers channel on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/channels/earwigteacherstoteachers


Why Another Crowdcube Round?

With its current funding and support from existing shareholders, Earwig has the resources to get through to profit in 2016. So, why go for another Crowdcube round?

While dealing with educators over the past year, it has become clear that us that Earwig has the potential to become an even more valuable educational tool and to become central to the way schools work, at every level.  But, to achieve this, we must develop three specific ‘modules’ (Nursery, Primary and Secondary) to reflect the different pedagogy at each education stage and develop the necessary interfaces to tie our software into other platforms already used in schools.

We could wait for a couple of years to be able to do this from our own resources, or we could seize the opportunity. We are going for it.

So we are looking to raise an additional £152,000 to enable us to fill out the Earwig product suite, build the marketing and sales momentum and speed up the rollout to those 46,000 schools and other educational institutions which make up the UK education landscape.


Contact Information:

Joe Ryan
Owen Jamieson
Emilie-Kate Kidd
Mark Hindmarsh
Gary Crofts

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