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4 Ways Monopoly™ Teaches You About Startup Success

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It has been a long time since our last Blog and we apologize for the recent silence. We’ve been working hard on improving our product and appreciate all of the feedback we receive. We’re going to make sure to post more frequently on here.

This post is not related to product updates or features but is a unique recap of what we’ve learned about entrepreneurship through starting GoSoapBox, and what advice we’d give to students interested in starting their own company.

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Major Update and Changes

We’ve recently made some major decisions in terms of our business model, and want to give you insight into what decisions we’ve made, why we made them, and how it affects you.

We’re a bootstrapped company, and have opted to not raise outside funding because we feel it’s in the best interest of our product. We’re focused on making a great product, and we want to be accountable to our users, not our investors. By bootstrapping we are able to focus on making decisions that lead to the best product possible, and avoid the pressure of making decisions based on a return on capital investment.

Bootstrapping though requires generating enough revenue to support ourselves as we continue to build and unfortunately we’ve determined that our current business model will not be scalable enough in the future to allow us to grow and compete with competitors who have raised outside funding.

So what’s changing?

We are no longer going to offer the individual teacher subscriptions to GoSoapBox. Instead we are introducing an alternative model that keeps GoSoapBox totally free for educators.

Here’s how it works…

  • Instructors can ask or require students to use GoSoapBox in their class, just like they do with textbooks and clickers.
  • Students purchase a GoSoapBox subscription at a very low cost ($10 per year). This subscription entitles them to use GoSoapBox with any class.
  • Each student will now receive their own account to sign in with.
  • Instructors will have access to use GoSoapBox for free

Integrating student accounts also opens the door for improving student performance tracking and analytics in the future. We have some exciting ideas on how to innovate this aspect of the product.

What this change means to you…

1. If you are a GoSoapBox user you can choose to upgrade to the ‘student account’ model. Each of your students will create their own account, and you will be eligible for the additional benefits in the future (Text message response integration, student performance tracking, etc.)

2. If you signed up for a trial of GoSoapBox before August 1st you are eligible to continue with the original subscription model as promised ($90 / year)

3. We will continue to offer volume discount pricing & pilots for Schools, Universities, and Districts. For more information please email john@gosoapbox.com

4. We will also continue to offer free trials for new users, and students are not required to create accounts during the free trial period.

Thank you for all of your support along the way. It’s been an exciting few months since our initial launch and we really appreciate all of our users’ help.

We have some exciting new features that are ready to be rolled out so stay tuned for those!

Using GoSoapBox With PowerPoint

The most common feature request that we receive is for polling integration into PowerPoint & Keynote. A full integration is something that we are working towards but requires a heavy development effort.

We know that many teachers use PowerPoint slides to guide their lectures and we feel bad that we aren’t able to offer full slide integration yet, so we recently developed a new feature called ‘Instant Polling’.

Instant Polling is a simple feedback tool that relies on external sourcing of questions. If you have put together some questions in PowerPoint or Keynote, and don’t have the time to migrate those into GoSoapBox’s Poll or Quiz features, you can use Instant Polling.

Students get a simple menu of choices (you can control the number of these), and you see a real-time histogram of their responses.  When you are ready to move onto the next external question, select “Clear Data” and the histogram readies itself for new responses.

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Happy Teachers Appreciation Week!

Through our friends at Toodalu.com (another Chicago based startup), we have the opportunity to donate a percentage of our business expenses directly to a charity of our choice and we thought, what better way to show our appreciation for teachers than donating money to an education based charity of their choice? So that’s what we’re doing.

 

How It Works…

Any time we use our credit card at a Toodalu partnered establishment, 5% of the expense will be directly donated to a charity of our choice.

  • We have also linked our personal credit cards to Toodalu, and will donate those returns to the same charity.

How Do You Get Involved?

We’ve created a GoSoapBox event and have listed a few education based charities to get the ball rolling.

  • Vote for one of the charities already listed, or add in your own!
  • We have the opportunity to donate to any charity we choose. Feel free to add any education based charity around the world… just make sure to include enough info.
  • At the end of next week we will link our credit cards to the charity that has the most votes.

Teachers play one of the most important, and perhaps under appreciated roles in our world and we’re excited about this opportunity to give a little back. We don’t want to limit the voting to GoSoapBox users, so feel free to share the information with any other teachers in your life.

Thanks for all you do,

John & Dave

 

GoSoapBox Behind The Scenes

Our users play a huge roll in building our product, and we like to think of you as ‘Part of the team’, so we want to give you guys a little more visibility into the company behind the product.

GoSoapBox is based out of Chicago, IL. While the epicenter of technological innovation has long been linked to Silicon Valley, over the past few years Chicago has quietly made it’s way onto the entrepreneurial scene. With an increasing number of resources for entrepreneurs to access, we are really excited to be part of this growing ecosystem of innovation.

Downtown Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday marked the official opening of one of Chicago’s newest and most exciting initiatives towards promoting this entrepreneurial community. A brand new, 50,000 sq foot, co-working and incubation space called 1871. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1871 is the new headquarters of GoSoapBox….let us show you around!

The collaborative workspace at 1871

1871 is the new home of 65 of Chicago's fastest growing tech start-ups

 

143 foot-long glass white board at 1871

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home to three local universities: Northwestern, University of Illinois, University of Chicago and IIT

In-house Coffee Shop

28 private conference rooms & impressive wall to wall murals

They holds daily entrepreneurship classes with topics ranging from Law to Sales to Design & Development.

The Omari Effect

How a twelve year old and his bicycle deepened my appreciation for learning.

My name is Blair Kessler and I am a junior at Northwestern University, studying Economics and Entrepreneurship. This Spring I will be interning with GoSoapBox .

I spent this past summer working in the education branch of Outreach Zanzibar; a start-up Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Zanzibar, Tanzania.  Situated off the coast of mainland Tanzania and north of Madagascar, this archipelago lies approximately 8,500 miles away from sweet home Chicago.

It was my responsibility to implement an English based curriculum into Unguja Ukuu primary school, located in a remote village on the Eastern coast of the Island.  The village primarily served as the home to “fish-mongers,” supplying five star resorts across the island with fresh seafood.  It was the ultimate goal of many of the students I would work with over the next three months to be successful “fish-mongers.” It was my goal to challenge this intuition, by providing a platform in the classroom to best prepare them to continue their education, or at the very least become aware of what other opportunities are out there.

The Unguja Ukuu complex is split in half by the main road that runs into the center of commerce on the island, Stone Town.  On the right hand side of the road is the primary school and on the left is the secondary school.  Each school is spread across five tin-roofed, open-air classrooms, filled with hand crafted benches and desks facing the teachers’ podium and large black slate, that serves as the blackboard.  Behind the secondary school lies an open field that serves as grounds for the village’s cattle during the evenings and school’s soccer pitch during the day.  Playing soccer was a very rich and humbling experience. Students without shoes would run circles around me, across the field strewn with cow manure and “prickers,” not phased in the least.

Unguja Ukuu Students On The Soccer Pitch

For lunch students would pay 100 Tanzanian schillings (equivalent of $0.05) for a cup of pink bean porridge.  Curious of who this “mzungu” (white-person) was at their school, students flocked at the opportunity to eat and even share their porridge with me in hopes of learning a new word of English or teaching me a few words of their native tongue, Swahili.

Each student was responsible for supplying a notebook for each subject, comparable to a Blue Book, which was to last them the length of the academic year.  The students of Ungujua Ukuu never had their own textbook and were accustomed to being taught lessons by under-qualified teachers who showed up late and unprepared; a stark contrast to their peers in first world countries.

Despite limited tools, resources and technology, the Unguja Ukuu students were more engaged and eager to learn than any other group of students I’ve shared a classroom with before. I can only imagine how excited Unguja Ukuu kids would be to use an application like GoSoapBox!

One student in particular, named Omari, stood head and shoulders above his peers in terms of drive and curiosity.  Each morning and afternoon, Omari would meet me on the road into school on his bike and offer me a ride to beat the hot Zanzibar sun on the three-mile stretch, in exchange for sharing the English word of objects that we would come across on the ride, or that had occurred that day.  Personally, I don’t know many seventh graders anxious to tug a former defensive lineman on the back of their bike, just to soak up a few more bits of knowledge.  Omari taught me far more than I thought any seventh grader ever would, and it is his story and love for learning that has brought me to join an education based start-up.

Omari and I

Never in the last 20 years of my formal education have I seen an appreciation run so deep through a group of students, or such genuine interest and curiousity in learning as I did in Zanzibar.

As I reflect back upon the strong academic foundation that I have built, and the opportunities that presented themselves throughout my academic career, I have a new found appreciation for the people and institutions that allowed me to get to where I am today.  Driven by the conversations over porridge at lunch, Omari’s ride to and from school, and the genuine enthusiasm for learning that I witnessed in Zanzibar, my appreciation for the educational opportunities that lie ahead of me has never been stronger.

I hope that my story will inspire you to feel the same thirst for knowledge as Omari, who was eager to lug a 220 pound lineman for three miles on the back of his bike in order to learn a few new words of English each day. With today’s technology, we have access to a world of knowledge within a few clicks of a mouse. The next time you find yourself watching reality TV, or browsing Facebook, I challenge you to think of Omari and his friends sitting patiently on their wood bench, waiting for their teacher to show up to class. Do right by Omari and take advantage of the resources that are available to us. Be eager to learn something new, or better yet, teach a friend something new. There’s a group of kids 8,500 miles away who I know would appreciate it.

Unguja Ukuu Students Waiting For Class To Start

Unguja Ukuu Students Waiting For Class To Start

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or feedback at: blair@gosoapbox.com