Thank you so much for dropping by!
Hi Ford, Katie, and Tim,
Thank you so much for making time to learn about us and what we’re making.
We thought we’d put all of our application in one place for you.
If you have questions, just select the little blue conversation widget and send away.
If we’re at our desk, we’ll be sure to respond right away!
Nick and Brendan
Eariously’s Elevator Pitch
As many as 90% of college students don’t complete assigned readings for a given class. Eariously lets students listen to the things they have to read.
Our Aha! Moment
Listening has always been our favorite medium to learn new things, and we started making Eariously for ourselves. But, it wasn’t until we made an Eariously landing page that we discovered an ideal listener with has a willingness to pay for our product. Within a month of creating a landing page, we had gathered 1,000 signups. But, more interestingly, we discovered that many respondents were college professors, librarians, and IT staff. We were curious to learn why, so we called them. College faculty and staff told us that 70% of students don’t do the reading for any given class. Professors and librarians signed up to use Eariously as a learning tool because getting students to “do the reading” is their biggest student-related frustration. Then, we spoke with more than 500 students to learn about learning habits. Due to a lack of time, comprehension, or access to materials, the vast majority of students (as high as 90%) don’t complete assigned readings for any respective class. We discovered, too, that accessibility tools for students with diagnosed learning differences (approximately 11% of students) were lackluster and generally disliked by students.
Eariously’s Viability and Sustainability
We sell Eariously as an annual subscription to college, university, and high school administrators. We know that this business model strategy works because college administrators have helped us to understand that this is the most viable and sustainable path to selling to schools. In 2018, domestic colleges and universities spent $12.8B on IT purchases. If there are 23M undergraduate and graduate students, this means that each student receives $557/year. At $1/student/month for Eariously, $12/year would be capturing ~2% of the overall market of college and university IT spend. While we’re interested in pricing by tier (not by student), at this particular price reference, a small campus like Colby would be paying $24,000 to license the entire student body. In our model, to maintain as high a degree of conservatism as possible, we discount these numbers quite a bit and forecast viability and sustainability. Additionally, we’re beginning to have conversations with folks from other markets as well (e.g. law offices, companies with large learning libraries) who are comfortable with paying for Eariously given a subscription-based business.
We have focused on developing systems and processes that allow our software to scale. Given the overwhelmingly positive response by students, we are confident in our ability to mobilize student support as a strategy for garnering administrator and professor support on more campuses. We’ve done it on two campuses, and we’re certain that these processes can be made repeatable so we can responsibly scale. In fall 2018, we prototyped processes to find students who want Eariously on campus, turned them into campus evangelists, and began generating student demand. This spring and summer, we are systematizing this process fully, and we believe that we can begin the fall with 25 new pilot programs. During the past two weeks, we have focused our software development efforts on creating systems that allow a small number of students to spread Eariously throughout a campus. By Fall 2019, we’re optimizing for one single student to spread Eariously throughout campus. Then, upon partnering with school administrators, we can access a campus’ learning management system to allow for a turnkey solution in which an entire body of students can listen to their assigned readings.
Eariously is accessible accessibility software. After speaking with students with diagnosed learning differences (and their respective accessibility offices), we discovered that most accessibility software is quite cumbersome and difficult to use. We believe that working so closely with students has allowed us to build superior software to all alternatives.
Our competitors either are not compatible or are extremely limited with their ability to turn PDFs into sound. Through working with students, we discovered that the majority of reading assigned for sophomores, juniors, and seniors is a PDF. As our software “reads” more PDFs (and assignments, in general), the quality of the “reading” improves over time (because of our machine learning software).
Whereas competitors require administrative support, students on any campus can use Eariously because our software can exist outside of a campus’ LMS. We plan to replicate our student-led strategy at scale by gaining broad student support before approaching administrators to formalize agreements. Because student support is the greatest factor of whether administrators sign a software contract, this strategy allows us to focus on student needs.
Our focus is a principal strength. Brendan and I believe that bootstrapping has forced us to listen intently to students’ needs, and we’ve been able to do a lot with a little. By using SCRUM methodology, we’re constantly improving our software, releasing it, and garnering qualitative and quantitative feedback. Since starting, we’ve spent less than $5,000 to develop our software (including travel, meetings, and software costs).
Our team of two has the technical ability to build industry-changing software. We’re highly confident in our ability to continue to deliver a superior learning experience for students. Brendan’s ability to execute development work is exceptional, and Nick’s strength of understanding human behavior makes for an ideal team. Nick has successfully built strong relationships at three colleges, and we’re certain that these relationships are essential to scaling our software at colleges and universities. Nick’s confidence in Brendan’s ability to execute allows Nick to effectively forecast a vision and sell this to others.
From speaking with accessibility experts, we’re certain that our software can be the difference between learning and not learning for many students. We know this to be true because we’ve seen it materialize ourselves with students we work closely with. Colby is an elite liberal arts college with a predominantly wealthy student body, and we’ve seen a tremendously positive impact. However, we believe that Eariously can have a profound impact in marginalized or disenfranchised communities.
We’re positive that we can become the accessibility and learning standard at colleges and universities because we’re learning directly from the listeners we’re building for by embedding ourselves on a campus. For students to use software, it’s essential to be easy to use and an enjoyable experience. Students’ ruthless feedback has helped to ensure this.
We have focused on colleges and universities because these institutions have a willingness and ability to pay for our software. However, as we continue to improve our software, we believe that Eariously can be even more impactful for children in high school and secondary schools throughout Maine (and eventually elsewhere).
How Will We Spend $50,000?
Wisely! We have made a tremendous amount of progress bootstrapping since September. However, to execute our lofty ambitions, we need some technical help. Specifically, we’re interested in adding a software developer with expertise with machine learning and computer vision. We believe that hiring a person with this background and bringing them to central Maine would allow us to get our software to the next level. Effectively, this new teammate would allow our software to constantly be learning from listener input, improve the listening experience for students, and fast-track our ability to explore new markets (outside of the education world) as a SaaS solution.
Of course, $50,000 isn’t a high enough salary to pay a software developer with highly specialized skills. However, this money would provide the time to allow us to raise a small seed round (or garner a 1:1 match from MTI) to pay the balance of the salary to this individual. We have a line of accredited investors who are excited and willing to invest in Eariously when we’re ready. We’re confident in our ability to execute raising a small seed round, and winning this money would jumpstart this process.
Have you received (or do you have pending) additional funding from other sources?
We hope to garner a small grant (of approximately $25,000) from MTI in the coming month or two. Should we win this competition, we’d hope to receive a 1:1 match from MTI. For our MTI application, we created a financial model for the coming two years, which you can see below.
Clicking on this button will open Sheets in a new window.
Eariously’s Pitch Deck
Add Your Email to Our Waiting List
Of course, we’re building Eariously for students right now. But, you can always add your email to our waiting list just in case we start developing a consumer-based product.