Editor’s note: The following is part of Startland News’ ongoing coverage of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Kansas City’s entrepreneur community, as well as how innovation is helping to drive a new normal in the ecosystem. Click here to follow related stories as they develop.
Widespread school shutdowns because of Coronavirus (COVID-19) doubled Kansas City edtech platform Boddle’s user base almost overnight — but that didn’t stop the startup from offering its services for free, said Edna Martinson.
“I think with any business, you’re trying to meet sales but when things are so unprecedented and like nobody expected … we are able to offer this for free and we know it’s something that can help kids, especially in a season with a lot of anxiety,” said Martinson, co-founder of Boddle, along with her husband, Clarence Tan.
“If we can offer something that can help them learn and keep them entertained, and just kind of bring some normalcy and fun to learning at home — it was a pretty easy decision for us to make,” she added, noting the opportunity for the users to become an informal focus group of sorts for the developing platform.
Click here to read Boddle’s tips on effective remote learning.
Click here to read more about why Boddle was selected as one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2020.
Boddle found itself in an unique position when COVID-19 prevention processes and social distancing called for a pivot to online learning from home, Tan said, noting parents also overwhelmingly began to sign up in the previous week.
“We’ve gotten hundreds of educators and parents… at first we thought it was all teachers that were signing up to get on Boddle for a resource for remote learning, but we’re finding out that a lot of those signups were parents looking for a tool for their kids to learn at home,” he said.
“We didn’t anticipate that many to jump in at one time, but our system has been really good,” he added.
The team is now focused on providing a second version of Boddle that is more home-friendly, Martinson added.
“It will be a lot easier for parents to use in their homes without having to go set up a classroom and all the extra stuff for one kid,” she said.
The added users give the team time to ensure the platform provides the necessary support, she added.
“I think that what will be really good is finding out the features that they’re benefitting from the most because then we can really focus in on making sure that’s something we’re always providing for them,” Martinson said.
The demand for Boddle’s supplemental, instructional videos has increased as more users hop on the platform as well, Tan added, noting the team is looking for educators willing to help build out that aspect.
“Sometimes, especially in an online learning environment, the teacher is not available to work with individual students remotely, so they need some sort of supplementary instruction and I can count on one hand the amount of tools in the market that actually provide that service,” Tan said. “So we started building those instructional tools, and we kind of have to speed that up right now.”
Click here to sign up for Boddle’s free offering.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.