Monday 23 October 2017

Studyclix gives student focus and can replace grinds

Studyclix founders Luke Saunders and Keith Wright
Studyclix founders Luke Saunders and Keith Wright
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

GIVEN the time of year, it is no surprise that education-focused businesses are front and centre at the moment.

The Leaving Cert and Junior Cert exams may still give some of us nightmares, but it need not be this way.

Studyclix was set up by teacher, Luke Saunders, and business partner Keith Wright five years ago but has been operating since 2012. It's plan is remarkably simple. Traditionally, if a student was weak in a particular subject, they paid for grinds. For example, a student might have struggled with differentiation in Leaving Cert maths. The normal remedy for that problem, would be to get grinds for all of the subject.

Studyclix however divided subjects into "topics" and students were able to drill down into specific problems.

"I did my Leaving in 1999 and when I returned to the classroom as a teacher I was quite surprised to see how little things had changed," says Mr Saunders.

"There had to be a way to direct learning in a focused, targeted, manner."

Since setting up, Studyclix has moved beyond its original idea. It is now as much a network for students and teachers, as a sort of online grinds school.

"We saw quite quickly that there was a huge amount of organic growth in the business. We have seen teachers and students alike helping each other on the site and students are constantly dealing with other students queries.

"When students started posting questions about specific problems they were having, we thought we would have to employ people to answer those questions but other students quickly filled that gap," Mr Saunders says.

To date, the site boasts 434,000 users every month, and just over half of the country's teachers have joined.

Interestingly, the site is free to use for teachers. While students can sign up for free, if they want a "plus" account, they need to pay €25.

Funding costs have been minimal so far, but the company was backed initially by what was Sligo County Enterprise Board and also took part in the "Ceim" business incubator programme. Studyclix is currently based at IT Sligo.

The firm is now likely to seek investment to move overseas into the UK and beyond but given the low costs incurred, Mr Saunders makes clear the company is not looking for any sort of investment.

One of the key factors in the firm's success so far, he believes, is the fact that he has kept development in house thanks to business partner Keith Wright.

"Keith has the IT expertise so we haven't had to pay contractors for coding and development – the importance of that can't be overemphasised and should be key to other start-ups."

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