Schoop, a contraction of ‘Schools in the Loop’, is an app that was originally created to help parents keep up to date with communications from their children’s schools. Over time it has evolved, and in its current iteration it is being used by schools and colleges, nurseries and preschools, clubs and societies, churches, public bodies, charities and businesses. SME caught up with founder Paul Smith to hear the story so far…
Tell me about your company – where did the idea come from? How did you get started?
Schoop started life in Cardiff.It was developed as a solution for teachers to involve parents and carers in the education of their children. The idea came about when my daughter told me she needed a lamb’s heart for a science project, but only gave me 30 minutes’ notice. My wife received some communications from the school via SMS, but I got nothing. So, I invented Schoop as a simple, cost-effective way for teachers to stay in touch with and engage with parents and for schools to reach out to an entire school community using one-way pushed messages, rich articles, calendars, forms and surveys.
We quickly realised that it wasn’t just schools that could use Schoop, so now it is available for any organisation with a focused group of people they need to communicate with.
In terms of my typical day, I’m a hands-on developer and the project manager for all things technical. I also look after the day-to-day business side of things. My day starts at a PC at around 7am, and I’m normally still in front of it until 10pm or later six days a week. We are a small team of five employees.
Could you tell me a bit about your product/service?
Schoop is a safe, multi-lingual communication solution for any organisation that talks to people. Schoop’s software-as- a-service allows customers to push one-way communications to their subscribers who have downloaded the app and subscribed to the customer’s channel.
Each customer is given a Schoop ID. This is just a number that identifies the channel in the Schoop apps. Schoop’s is 123. Customers, such as a school, pay Schoop a small, annual fee for our service.
Subscribers can choose from 40 languages, enter the Schoop ID, choose the relevant information they’d like to receive from the groups created by the customer, and that’s it. There’s no lengthy registration process, making Schoop a great way for people to be in the loop quickly and easily.
Customers can send push messages, scheduled messages, news and engagement articles, create events in a calendar, and can also get moderated feedback from subscribers using forms and surveys.
Customers are vetted so Schoop can’t be used for crime, advertising or cyber bullying.
New developments will include e-fundraising and targeted e-commerce that will help our not-for-profit customers raise much-needed funds.
Who are your biggest competitors? What makes your company special compared to its competitors?
There are several players in the education sector that have communication apps, but they are all focused on education and tied into school information management systems. Schoop is used by more than just schools. We have businesses, charities, sports clubs, public services, community groups, and even a choir.
We also have a global presence and can be used in any time zone in 40 languages.
Tell me about your clients – who purchases your products?
About 70% of our customers are primary and high schools, but we also have nursery chains, charities, community groups, sports clubs, public services, housing associations, and businesses.
Recently we signed up Arriva Trains Wales, which uses Schoop really effectively for employee engagement and to improve employee relations.