FRACTIONAL IP STORIES Episode #2
1. You created Serenity Compliance, but you also founded TeachandSell. Why?
TeachandSell was a platform for teachers to sell their teaching resources. However, it was all part of the process of creating what is now Serenity Compliance. TeachandSell enabled me to interact with preschool teachers and parents, create an email database with over 4,000 emails and validate the market for Serenity Compliance. I have incorporated some of the aspects of TeachandSell such as a blog where teachers can submit and share their personal experiences into Serenity Compliance.
2. We know you are in the early year's education research field, what exactly do you do as a researcher and how has that influenced your decision to create SC?
I have always loved research and wanted to look at the challenges preschool providers, and parents face with regards to the provision of early years education. My dissertation and subsequently my thesis revolved around this. Some of the challenges mentioned by preschool providers and teachers related to the increasing burden to meet curricula and policy standards, coupled with the paperwork associated with meeting these standards. Parents also identified a dearth of two-way communication between teachers and parents as a challenge. They wanted to be involved in their child's education but time and employment obligations sometimes hindered their full participation.
I started to think about how I could fill these gaps. Preschool providers are so important in developing the foundational learning experiences of young children. Quality preschool education has also been found to be linked to better outcomes for children. However, I found that there was so many challenges with quality early years education. I wanted to create something which would solve these problems but also be cost-effective. Serenity Compliance is a platform which does just this! Serenity Compliance enables preschool providers to check their compliance levels, communicate with parents, plan, assess and observe children’s learning with the touch of a button. It reduces paperwork and increases the health and safety of the early year's environment. So, teachers can do what they love – teach.
3. We think your story is a very typical inventor story; i.e. you have both tacit and specific knowledge on the subject. You created something tangible by integrating technology and the acquisition of exclusive intellectual property right. How important is our holistic approach to IP protection in the creation of your innovation?
IP creation/protection is something which every business should have. At a basic level, it will aid in protecting the brand and content created under the brand. The Serenity Compliance brand is how customers will recognise our products and so, is a huge asset for us. We will focus on trademarks and copyright for the unique features/content of the product. Without it, competitors could easily infringe on our IP, and this could mean a loss in market share. I also think that research and development go hand in hand with IP creation and protection. We will always be looking at new ways to remain competitive, build new features and ways of doing things. For us at Serenity Compliance, it will also involve assessing how competitors may copy our products or branding strategies and ways to mitigate these.
4. Still, on the subject of IP preeminence, you have recently raised a seed investment, what role has the articulation of intellectual property as a business strategy play in the success of the seed investment round.
A condition of the seed investment was that IP would be part of the business strategy and a plan on how the brand was going to be protected was in place. This shows that investors value IP protection and it can be a huge asset for companies. Especially, if like us, you are the first to do what you do in the way you do it! When you first launch you may be the only one with a particular design or process, but if this is not protected in some way, you have no guarantee that this will not be copied or your content or product duplicated.
5. What are the first steps you will recommend for someone who wants to foster entrepreneurship and creativity while they are solving a practical and significant problem in the society using their intellectual, entrepreneurial asset as you are currently doing?
I would say ensure that you are solving a problem and that your target market cares about this problem. Then I would say protect it as quickly as you possibly can. If you are filling a gap in the market and you do it well, others will want in on it too. If you can protect your brand/content/service, this will give you a competitive advantage. Think of the major brands out there. A lot of the time you do not buy their product, you buy the brand and what it represents. Your brand is everything so protect it and take steps to reduce the likelihood of copycats and infringers.
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