Tag Archives: Realm Digital

SAPA National Conference 2013

The South African Principals’ Association (SAPA) hosted their National Conference at Emperor’s Palace in Gauteng between the 7th and 9th of October 2013. The overall goal of the conference was to bring together figures in the education sector to tackle the year’s theme of Education on Track. I attended the conference to represent Paperight, make contact with fellow exhibitors and sell the Paperight service to school principals. We partnered with Realm Digital/Snapplify to take a stand.

My initial feeling after the conference was positive that sales and useful contacts would come from my attendance. However, in hindsight, I don’t believe that this event had the rewards that I anticipated. We have not tracked any sales to come directly from the conference and no schools have signed up in the period following the event. Despite handing out many flyers, as well as my business card, no attendees acted on these takeaway reminders of what Paperight offers.

I believe the reasons for this failure are a combination of the following:

  • an over-complicated brand introduction*
  • an unwillingness on the part of the principals to consider using a paper option for the students in light of all of the pro-digital sentiment that has been bandied about, particularly at the conference
  • despite their best intentions, a lot of the principals are not technologically clued up enough (or simply doubt their own ability) to use the Paperight site
  • a snobbishness on the part of some of the principals who seemed to be very interested in getting free stuff in order to secure their attention
  • my failure to push for principals to leave their contact details
  • the delegates may have been overwhelmed by the enormous volume of new information over the course of the event
  • Paperight does not offer enough material for primary school children

*By an over-complicated brand introduction, I mean to say that when consumers see the Paperight brand for the first time, there are so many options to use the service that some may be driven to inaction. For example, schools can sign up themselves OR head to their local copy shop OR lease a RISO machine that comes with a Paperight.com account.

Knowing what I know now, I would not advise visiting the SAPA conference again unless we have the resources to bring in memorable gimmicks or free samples to help us sell the idea of Paperight and leave a better lasting impression. Unfortunately, this is not an accommodating environment for small, cash strapped start ups.

Getting to paperight.com 1.0

screenshot_20120510Getting Paperight 1.0 live was a huge milestone for us. While the build in the end – from scratch, without a base CMS, over only two months – was fast and smooth, this was only possible because we put every ounce of learning and planning I’d done for the site over the previous three years into its design and planning. It’s a very simple thing now, but that is deliberate simplicity.

I had one key principle for the site: all our choices had to favour making the site as fast and light as possible.

I had one key principle for the site: all our choices had to favour making the site as fast and light as possible. Outlets have slow connections and busy shop floors. This informed decisions like our simple prepaid accounts (the outlet manager can top up an account in advance very quickly); account balances and licence fees had to be shown in the user’s currency, no matter where they are in the world; the interface had to be clean with large figures and buttons, for quick, simple use at the point-of-sale.

I worked very closely with the team at Realm Digital on this. Realm were an expensive choice, and I’m pleased that our decision to use them paid off in fantastic service, great design, and real dedication to the time-frames and to the business model itself. Lead developer Shaine Gordon has described technically how the site’s built on our blog.

In addition to ongoing refinements, we’re now planning a second round of development for Paperight 1.1.