Tech, training and education make a powerful combination for business – The Australian Financial Review

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Box of Books and Get My Course prove that successful education is simply a question of bringing students and key skills together.
Box of Books, an Australian-owned edtech provider, sits in a small pocket of the market that offers a complete school resources solution via a platform that offers a centralised procurement and e-commerce solution for all learning resources, such as textbooks and stationery.
Its strategy of cleverly straddling technology and procurement has earned it a place in the Fast 100 list.
Box of Books enables students to seamlessly access digital resources in a range of formats with a single sign-in. 
CEO Brad Dobinson says the company was launched in 2018, responding to a gap that existed in the operation of Australian schools by co-ordinating the procurement of textbooks, school supplies and digital resources.
For schools, the ability to cut down on administration and operate more efficiently offers an appeal, given that most school resources are purchased from up to a dozen suppliers.
“It’s been a game-changer for the schools from an administration perspective,” Dobinson says.
Box of Books CEO Brad Dobinson says the company responds to a gap that existed in the operation of Australian schools by co-ordinating the procurement of textbooks, school supplies and digital resources. 
“Just within the digital portion of what students use in classrooms today, there was historically a number of roadblocks that meant that the digital tools teachers wanted to use were problematic and cumbersome to procure for the classroom.
“The concept of having a student who went to six different classes and had six different usernames and six different passwords and managing that across 25 students in a class … the potential failure points were mind-boggling.”
Box of Books sought to resolve this issue once and for all, enabling students to seamlessly access digital resources in a range of formats with a single sign-in.
“We now supply all aspects of what a student needs to learn, whether it’s a physical textbook, stationery or a resource pack,” Dobinson says.
“We improve the learning lives of students, with technology that allows students to read a textbook in more than 80 different languages, which provides for learning diversity support for students that have specific learning requirements to be able to adjust the text to meet their specific needs.”
From a start-up with one employee in 2018, Box of Books now has nearly 40 employees. Retention rates among schools are high, with 98 per cent retaining the service the following year.
Despite demonstrable growth, like everyone in tech, it’s been tough to secure talent, which remains a challenge, Dobinson admits.
More than 250 secondary schools will be using the platform in 2023, but the size of the market is gigantic. There are 2700 secondary schools and 1.6 million students in Australia alone.
Box of Books has been on an educational journey of its own, realising that it needed to firstly educate schools on the benefits it offered. Getting a foot in the principal’s door hasn’t always been easy.
“We’ve effectively had to push the education of what our service can do and demonstrate that to schools to ensure they can clearly see the benefits that we offer,” he says.
Darshan Chavan and Rejin Rajan, of Get My Course. 
Launching four years ago, Get My Course, which has hit the AFR Fast Starters list, helps people working in the community sector to map their career goals and gain the qualifications needed to reach those goals. They have partnered with a dozen training companies across Australia, funnelling students into these courses.
The co-founders, Darshan Chavan and Rejin Rajan, met when they were international students, forking over $2000 to attend a Tony Robbins conference. Neither of them expected the direction of their lives would change forever.
Chavan found himself sitting next to Rajan. Both were motivated and searching for some inspiration to build a new career direction. They began chatting during the breaks, and realised they had similar career goals.
“Training companies are great at training, but they need some assistance in marketing and enrolling students, which is where we come in. We fill that gap for them. There are a lot of people in the community sector who need to upskill, and we help them navigate their career path through upskilling,” Chavan says.
“A key challenge out there is helping students get into courses. We also help people with skills in childcare, aged care or the disability sector get certified for those skills, without the need to study for years. And these students see the value that we provide and they come back looking for other services.”
A big focus for the pair is working with people who are part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“Some people working with the NDIS need further training to bring in more value, so we’re trying to bridge that gap and look at how to build their skills. The more skilled and knowledgeable they are, the better the scheme works,” Chavan says.
It’s a simple idea that has enabled them to build a profitable business, thriving during the pandemic, given it became a period of career and life reflection for many. They now employ 52 staff, who have themselves undertaken intensive training to understand the industry.
But there are, of course, challenges. Managing a scaling business isn’t for the faint-hearted, Chavan says. “We have three mentors who are experts in sales, leadership and scaling who are guiding us in the right direction.”
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