We’ve come so far over the last ten weeks. During this time we’ve listened intently to you; to different practitioners working in schools, local government and the corporate world; and from our very special online community who’ve had our backs from day one. We’ve worked alongside; heard from or caught the attention of teachers speaking sixty-nine different languages; from two and a half thousand cities; in over one hundred and twenty countries across the world. All these teachers (your global colleagues) saw- in fit2teach - an application with the potential to help improve your work-life balance and wellbeing. And it did. And you did. And we did. When we asked you to stick around, you showed patience and trust and - together – we’re making small-steps to make things right. In fact if not for the controversy behind our ‘Glue Stick Delivery’ question, we’d probably all be sharing a house together; albeit a massive one, in or around the equator.
Fast forward a few weeks and we’re travelling up and down the country meeting inspirational people that I’d happily come out of retirement to work with and for. I’d gladly learn how to teach long division for these people; use PVA glue; even work the odd weekend evening lunch-break. We pitched them our idea for our new fit2teach School platform and they loved it – we had them at ‘Hello...’. Money’s too tight to mention so we eventually decided on our pilot-launch - a free initial trial-period developing our school system together. Happy days. The first schools are in; I’m doing back-to-back Facebook live-streams ahead of publishing the schools page on our website; we’re making last-minute decisions on logos; and - all the time – the feedback is through the roof. And then I fall asleep.
Fast forward twenty-four hours and I’m sat in Austin Dad’s garage with Austin and the agenda for our first board meeting. I didn’t wake up there. I took wine as a thank you to Martyn; Austin got whiskey, a massive whiteboard, dry-wipe pens and a pack of post-its. Martyn was running late after someone rear-ended him on the Snake-Pass on the way to Sheffield; which was fine as Austin lost one of those black inserts from his fidget-spinner which took a while to find. I’ll remind you that this is a board meeting. But such antics shouldn’t surprise you. Since launching f2t, I’ve arrived at different meetings with gifts of piñatas, water-pistols, bottles of Henderson’s Relish and a water-melon. Austin and I spend an hour doing the same kind of activity I done previously with with my Y3s ahead of a new history topic. We’d worked like this before; but we’d never had a range of different coloured post-its. We were chuffed with our work and were hopeful of getting picked for Friday’s celebration assembly.
‘What did I miss?’ Martyn gasped as he entered the garage full of whiplash and drenched in rain. What neither of us realised, was that we’d just set the scene for our biggest pivot to-date. Ten weeks ago, I didn’t even know what a pivot was. Austin and Martyn were well-versed in the language of business and tech – I’d been changing nappies and hunting Pokemon for the last eight months. But at least I knew what a Pikachu was. We’d been tweaking our business-model based on user-feedback from day one; but this was the first deep-breath moment that many start-ups aren’t brave enough to take. But we’re not you’re average start-up.
The school-system we introduced the day before was mapped out in glorious orange post-its; the additional features of our App – and its development - were stuck down in yellow. After being forced out of beta earlier than expected following such glowing feedback and demand, we’d always promised our users a fit2teach App they could be proud of; one that could change lives. Seeing a sea of yellow suddenly hit home. We had unfinished business; and launching the pilot for our school-system at the same time as our native App would prevent us delivering on our promise to give you the App we set out to build for you - something very special. We’re privileged to have two ground-breaking products that – we know – can help bring about the change that we so desperately need. But we won’t put our school system out until we have the fit2teach App that my wife – Caroline - and I dreamed of. Once we have that; then we’ll have a brand that commands the trust, love and support of the very people we set out to work for; of an even larger teaching community. Then we’ll be ready. Then - and only then – will we consider launching a more advanced pilot schools-system. And - boy - will we be ready.
Prior to the release of this post, all schools already signed up to our fit2teach Schools pilot-launch were informed of our intention to postpone its release. We thank them for their kind words and understanding; and applaud their commitment to improving the work-life balance and wellbeing of their teaching-teams. We champion them for their willingness to try something different; and for (hopefully!) their patience in sticking with us. Our fit2teach Schools platform still sits on the horizon. In the meantime, we’d love any interested schools to trail our new (and ridiculously cool!) native App from September – an App built for teachers and support staff; and developed by them.
Your f2t Team