How Teno, a simple free to use app changed the way schools in India interact with parents
Teno's success is a testimony to the fact that technology when used in the right way can actually solve problems at the grassroot level.
We launched Teno App (www.tenoapp.com) in November 2015 - A free mobile app for schools with one simple vision - bringing schools and parents closer for the ultimate benefit of school going children in India.
An extensive market research conducted by our team revealed a glaring expectation gap between schools and parents of our country. The brunt of which was unnecessarily being borne by the kids.
Our research revealed that 3 out of 5 parents knew very little of what was happening in their child's school and were only involved when the child erred, misbehaved, defaulted in submissions etc.
What school principals had to say was a different story all together - A glaring 4 out of every 5 principals that were interviewed complained of parents ''outsourcing'' their child's development to the school.
The principals expressed their displeasure about parents not taking active part in their child's school life and playing mere spectators expecting the school and its teachers to entirely bring up their child.
This is where the core idea stemmed from - the fact that both parties pretty much wanted the same thing but didn't seem to have the medium to collaborate.
That is exactly what we offered to schools - A free medium in the form of a mobile application specifically designed for schools to collaborate better with parents in a very secured environment specifically created for their school.
When we started out we had our share of apprehensions - Will all schools be open to technology? Will we be restricted to schools only in Metros? Will parents of Tier 2s and Tier 3s be tech savy enough to operate apps? Would mobile internet pose problems? Would teachers find this helpful enough to drive it?
Although we had some promising stats with respect to smartphone penetration , mobile data penetrations etc to reassure us - whether all of this would actually work out at the ground level was something to wait and watch.
With a little bit of initial feedback on the prototype from a few principals, teachers and parents, we decided to take the plunge.
We decided to keep the app as simple as we can such that schools can use it in their own innovative ways. We just wanted to provide them with a platform to connect and thus kept all our features really simple and designed them in the most user friendly way possible.
Since we are based out of Mumbai we started out in the Mumbai markets first. The response was quite overwhelming. In the first month itself we were able to get a few big names in Mumbai to see value in what we were offering and got them to start using it. The list included Panbai International at Santacruz, Lodha World School , Hiranandani Foundation School, Cathedral and John Connon School, Billabong High in Thane, New Horizon, Omkar Cambridge and a couple of others. The idea was to analyze the usage in these schools and quickly release enhancements and improvements to the app as required. We spent a lot of time personally talking to these principals, their teachers and parents.
We saw these schools very effectively use our platform to collaborate with parents at all levels. Most of these schools set up a process to have teachers send out the daily homework and class work to parents through the app so that parents were in the know.
To establish a friendly and happy environment with parents, these schools started sending out pictures of cultural programs, annual days, class performances etc. This helped to get parents involved and in fact gave them an opportunity to experience small little fun moments of their child's school life on a real time basis.
This simple activity brought the schools so much positive feedback from parents that we knew this was a winner for us. Parents were ecstatic to see pictures and videos of their kids flash on their mobile phones unexpectedly in the middle of a hard day at work or a mundane day at home. The ''happiness'' quotient was at an all time high with parents of these schools and they couldn't stop thanking the school enough for this initiative.
This pretty much gave birth to Teno's baseline - Ring in Happiness.
Apart from sending out homework, classwork and sharing fun moments on the app, we also saw schools come up with their own innovative ways to use the app. For eg. Panbai International school set up a process whereby parent groups as per their child's school bus numbers were created on Teno App and each time a certain school bus left the school premises, parents of kids travelling by that bus were intimated about the same. This kept parents in the know and were informed in case the bus was late.
We also saw schools innovate with the Allow Reply/Block Reply feature on Teno. Although most schools chose to keep communication one way at the start ( schools can choose to allow parents to reply or not) we saw a couple of schools set up 'feedback days' This meant that a 10 minute slot once a week was designated for each class during which parent responses were allowed. This was the time parents could send in their feedback, raise concerns etc. All valid concerns were then addressed by the school through 1-1 chats which is also made possible on Teno.
Our Mumbai experiment was very reassuring and just knowing that we were actually successful in bringing schools and parents closer was a huge high for the entire team.
That's when we began marketing to other parts of the country too.
The response was overwhelming. In 6 months we had more than 1000 schools across India successfully using our platform.
Before we knew it we had presence in 223 cities of the country and over 0.3million happy subscribers on our platform .
What was most overwhelming was the fact that we saw the best response from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Schools and parents welcomed our technology wholeheartedly. Parents and teachers of these cities proved all our earlier apprehensions baseless and are amongst our most active users today.
Cities like Mon in Nagaland, Jaunpur in UP , Lohardagga in Jharkhand, Siwan in Bihar, Dhule in Maharashtra among the many others have some of Teno's most active schools that have changed the way they interact with parents. Parent teacher meetings are conducted on the App, test marks are shared with parents on Teno, all cultural event pictures, exam timetables, personal feedback on their child and everything else is today shared on Teno.
While our success in Metros and Tier 1s reassure us, it is the success in these small towns that makes our team beam with joy. Knowing that we were indeed able to bridge the gap between schools and parents in these little known towns is what makes each one of us here at Teno feel so good about what we do.
As you read this we have added a few more schools, a few more happy parents & teachers and of course indirectly a whole bunch of happy young school going students to our Teno Family.