Building the outlets network

Arthur had already made contact with Silulo Ulutho in Khayelitsha and wanted the outlet team to work on a marketing plan on how we will roll out Paperight via Silulo Ulutho stores. With my strong interest in marketing, Arthur allowed me to take the lead on drafting the marketing plan. In order to make the most of my teams strengths, I decided to include them by brainstorming ideas together on what we should do.

We already knew that we wanted to connect schools with their local Silulo Ulutho outlets which meant that Zukisani’s past experience would come in especially handy. We sat down and put several ideas in place, some ideas I disagreed with but, added for Arthur’s approval or disapproval so as not to appear to dictate to and disregard my new team. After feedback from Arthur we finalised our Silulo Ulutho marketing plan and began setting the wheels in motion.

At the same time, I began work on connecting Paperight to national franchise outlets. I began by attempting to set up a meeting with Chris Dunn, the head of 3@1. At the time, 3@1 was in the process of establishing franchises in the UK. This meant that a meeting with Chris Dunn was near impossible. In the meantime, I approached individual 3@1 outlets and managed to sign up several of them, who also insisted that I approach Chris Dunn as they felt that he would love the idea.

After failing to solicit a response from Chris Dunn, I could only manage to get a hold of a lady by the name of Megan. When she explained to me that Chris Dunn is unavailable for the foreseeable future, she suggested that I send information about Paperight to her and she would then forward the information to all of their outlets nationally. I sent her the information but, she failed to forward it to the outlets, despite several times stating that she would.

I called her one day and asked for permission to contact them myself, which she gladly gave. Nick drew up an information booklet about Paperight and I forwarded it, along with a detailed description about Paperight urging them to register for the service, to all the 3@1 outlets nationwide. It was initially successful with about 10 outlets registering within 2 days. Until one outlet forwarded the email to Chris Dunn who warned all outlets against us, saying he knew nothing about us (despite Megan stating the contrary telephonically) which resulted in 3@1 outlets ceasing to register for Paperight.

I appealed to Chris Dunn that Megan had given me permission to send out the emails but, Megan had suffered an onset of amnesia and didn’t know who Paperight was. I decided to refrain from contacting 3@1 any further, with the intention of contacting them again in future when tempers have calmed down. I focused on the 3@1 outlets that had signed up, identifying other outlets to approach and working on the Silulo Ulutho Marketing plan.

In order to keep track of what we were doing, I designed a weekly report sheet that we shared with the rest of Paperight. This proved to be quite effective in stoking the friendly competition within the team and ensured that we were all busy despite working independently.

Manual orders and the last days of Paperight 0.5

Everything Maths Grade 10I was on leave for much of April, but spent the majority of my time in the office creating packs of matric exams. We also uploaded Siyavula creative commons textbooks to the site, though this took some time as there were compatibility issues with their images in InDesign.

From November 2011 until April 2012, we had to fill orders that came in to Paperight manually. Throughout April, while the new and improved Paperight 1.0 was being developed, Nick and I continued to manually fill the orders that were coming in. This entailed prepping books, and then filling in licensing information and exporting PDFs with licensing information . We’d then email these directly to the outlet for printing out. April 2012 was the last month we had to fulfill orders manually, as Paperight 1 .0 was launched the following month, in May.

Publishers approached

  • Macmillan
  • Other Press
  • Peter Lang
  • Night Shade
  • Subterranean Press
  • Cover2Cover/Fundza

Matric exam panic in the attic

skawara-matric-packs_20120817The first large project that I participated in at Paperight was the sourcing and collation of matric exam packs, under Tarryn’s guidance.

The plan was to bring together every matric exam paper, memo and addendum from 2008 to the present (then, 2012) into one, easy-to-access resource for matrics. This resource would make Paperight attractive to potential copyshop partnershops, and would give us a reason to approach schools. Seeing as the papers were in the public domain, our idea was to make them free to print, so anyone could make use of the service. This would also make Paperight extremely attractive to copy shops as they wouldn’t need to shell out any money for credits up-front, and could get familiar with the system over time.

government education websites and resources had (and probably still have) a lot of dead or wrong links, and nobody in the Department of Basic Education were able to supply us with the missing exams

Initially, Tarryn and I (and, previous to my arrival, our previous intern and my friend Michal Blaszczyk) trawled the internet – especially the websites of the different provincial Departments of Education – looking for all the papers we needed. In the end, however, we found we had over 100 documents outstanding between us. In essence, government education websites and resources had (and probably still have) a lot of dead or wrong links, and nobody in the Department of Basic Education were able to supply us with the missing exams.

In a fit of desperation a few weeks into the collation process – and while Tarryn and Arthur were both overseas and I was left to man the office alone – I drove to the Western Cape Department of Education at the Grand Parade, snuck into the building, and stalked the halls asking people if they might be able to give me all the past papers for all the subjects “for my little sister”. After being chased out of rooms and down depressingly-lit and security-barred corridors, I eventually managed to find a man who would take my flash stick through a security gate to his computer to give me the exams. Unfortunately, it turned out, even his selection of exams were incomplete and thus completely useless for us.

Some weeks later, after much swearing and complaining about the state of government websites and systems, we caved in and bought disks from EduMedia, the WC DoE’s multimedia arm, at their Mowbray offices. These too weren’t comprehensive, but they filled in enough gaps for us to be able to go ahead with our planned claim that we had the most comprehensive collection of past matric exam papers and memoranda available for free in South Africa – an extremely helpful PR hook.