We’ve all likely been there at some point. Hurrying children to school only discover at the last moment that there is a field trip, parent conference, or classroom party happening that exact day.
It was a situation like this that prompted Keon Armstrong to launch School Papr, a technology company dedicated to creating simple solutions for schools and parents. School Papr strengthens the school to parent communication by offering applications and software that help schools go paperless.
In availing schools and parents to his digital products, Keon was also able to merge his passion for helping schools reach more parents with his love for technology.
Join Edupreneur Today as we share insights from Keon on how he successfully started and grew his business, which aims to bring how schools and parents communicate, into the 21st century.
When asked about his career in education prior to starting School Papr, Keon shared that he’d taught for 7 years at KIPP Dream Prep,a charter school based in Houston, Texas. KIPP Schools are unique in that they are located in underserved communities. He taught second grade, science, and technology and truly enjoyed exposing students to technology and allowing them to be creative.
On why he founded School Papr, Keon shares this story:
“The first seed to start this company was planted when I was leaving for work one morning. Before leaving, my son asks me, “Dad are coming to my field trip today?” I had no idea he had a field trip that day because my wife had signed the permission slip. I certainly cannot fault my wife (which is never a good idea anyway) because she is also very busy with family and career. I thought to myself there has to be a better way for us to keep track of what is going on at our children’s schools. The light bulb moment occurred when I received an email from my school informing us that we were suspending copying activity due to the rising costs associated with making copies. From there I began brainstorming ways to reduce paper expenses and increase parent communication. Although a few solutions existed, such as school websites and email notifications, I know all parents do not own a computer and email inboxes have become difficult to manage. Going mobile was the most logical choice because almost everyone owns a smart phone.”
The first three steps Keon recalls in starting this business were:
- Ensure sure that this was a viable product that organizations were willing to pay for.
- Write a business plan and LLC the business
- Consistently pitch the product to everyone from students and parents to school leaders and janitors
Running a successful education start-up is never without its challenges. When asked about his greatest challenge in entrepreneurship, Keon offered a similar struggle for most entrepreneurs, time management.
“I initially thought that this would be the most rewarding part of running my own business. I quickly learned that I have to be much more disciplined with schedules and deadlines. Having to be responsible for everything has also been a great challenge. I really had no idea how difficult marketing can be.”
Although there will be challenges in starting a new business, there are also great rewards and proud moments. To date, Keon’s proudest achievement is the experience of seeing his vision become a reality.
“I had so many doubts in the beginning. It was truly eye-opening to see it in action. It was great to hear the positive feedback from parents and administrators.”
I always close interviews with edupreneurs by asking their advice for educators who want to become entrepreneurs. Keon’s advice is “There will never be a perfect time to start. Just do it. In addition, save up as much capital as possible. You must be able to invest in your business and pay your personal bills.”
You can also connect with Keon and School Papr on social media using the following links:
Instagram (my favorite): @School_papr
Facebook: School Papr
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