I have always been full of ideas... By Anu Vaid (Founder, ParentSquare)
I have over 15 years of hands-on experience in the software industry. This experience includes requirements analysis, software design, implementation and testing to leading teams, process management and even quality optimization.
I enjoy turning vague requirements into products that customers want! My best learning was in a technology consulting company where I worked for several years and picked up many software languages and platforms serving different customers across the globe.
I have always been full of ideas that help individuals build communities, share and reach out. I am sure many parents of preschool and elementary age kids can conceive the idea - they need an easy communication system at school - but implementation is poor and scattered.
When my daughter started Kinder, I became the room parent and learnt how to bring parents together to build a vibrant bonded class community where kids can flourish. If you form a warm personal connection with the parents, they step up and participate, even if they are busy working parents. I put it to practice in ParentSquare where communication is all-in-one-place, signups are one-click, parent database with family information is online and parents can get questions answered.
Some of the challenges we have faced while growing ParentSquare have been:
- Schools have a long initial adoption cycle. Since ParentSquare is an all-school tool, we need the buy in of both the principal and the parent leaders.
- Teachers and parents can be at different levels of familiarity with technology. ParentSquare has to be simple enough so it can be used by technophobic users, yet include options for the tech savvy ones.
- Being a startup funded on self investment, customer support takes time away from software development. At the same time, it is good to directly loop it back into creating a better product.
Here's what has worked for us so far and I believe we did it right:
- Pilot early. Find an evangelist who is ready to use the product while it is being built and you get immediate response when ideas do not work right.
- Take customer requests and feedback seriously. Respond right away to build a strong network of supporters who become your ambassadors.
- Learn to say no. Do this when the work is looking like a drain and the return on investment is poor. Focus on the important stuff and have discipline in execution.
- Build the right team. Do your best to surround yourself with the right people for the job.
- Hire a partner. Find a partner in sales and marketing in the beginning if you are a technology specialist.
ParentSquare is turning out be a rewarding and enriching journey as we discover novel ways on how best to serve schools and parents and build better connected networks within schools so parents feel like they are a part of the family.
We may expand to other verticals but it's only schools for now. Right now, we're just focused on being the simplest all-in-one platform for pre and elementary schools.
If you would like us to help build a trusted family at your school, please give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org and Maria, my partner, would love to respond to your schools needs.
Women 2.0 readers: How have you built a community or communication system at your startup? Let us know in the comments!
About the guest blogger: Anu Vaid is the Founder of ParentSquare. With over 15 years of professional experience, Anu has worked at several software companies from a startup to medium and large organizations where she held technical and management positions. She is passionate about creating products that people can relate to and enjoys programming both simple user interfaces and complex computer algorithms. Anu holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the Delhi College of Engineering in India.