Student presentation app eyes overseas expansion
Chris Hughes: ‘incredibly proud’
A fledgling company helping students overcome presentation difficulties has received £450,000 to expand into international markets.
Glasgow-based edtech Estendio has created Present Pal, a communication tool that was created as a solution to a real-life challenge faced by founder and CEO, Chris Hughes.
The app works like a set of interactive flashcards to assist with creating presentation notes. Present Pal is now being used by over 5,000 students in over 100 UK universities to enable them to deliver a more confident and prepared presentation.
The funding, in the form of a long term convertible loan note, comes from key partners including Scottish Enterprise and a handful of heavyweight private investors. It follows a period of rapid growth for Estendio, supporting an additional 3,000 students across the UK this year alone.
Estendio will use the funding to create an additional 15 roles in software development, marketing and business development in Scotland.
The company says presentations are difficult for anyone, but even more-so for the 300,000 disabled and dyslexic students across the UK, who are often required to present as part of their university or college course.
Estendio is on a mission to alleviate this “presentation anxiety”. It was founded with an initial investment of £50,000 in 2015 and has made a profit over the last two financial years.
Revenue has tripled and the team has expanded from four to 17 during the pandemic, in spite of a highly disrupted global education market.
The flagship product, Present Pal, was launched in 2018 by Mr Hughes as a solution to the communication challenges and anxiety he was experiencing as a dyslexic university student.
Estendio says a staggering 93% of university students need to present as part of their university course, however this disproportionately impacts the 300,000 UK students with disabilities, with 86% admitting that they struggle with presenting.
Mr Hughes said: “I had to give presentations two or three times a week as part of my degree. I was getting so frustrated spending hours preparing every week only to forget key information during my presentation.
“After reaching out to my disability services, I was told this was a common challenge for disabled students and I was offered the chance to present directly to my lecturer or to skip the presentation altogether.
“After working so hard to get into university, skipping this key skill wasn’t an option for me, so I made a solution for myself. I’m incredibly proud that today this tool now supports thousands of presenters in gaining the same experiences and opportunities as their peers”
The new investment will support the company’s entry into the North American higher education and school markets, further establishing its position as both an industry thought leader and a driving force in improving accessibility in education.
Former Fanduel chairman and current Estendio chairman Owen O’Donnell, said: “This funding round is a major milestone for Estendio. Chris and the team have worked exceptionally hard to create an already profitable business in the UK and this investment will allow Estendio to deliver on its international ambitions, as well as reach more students within the UK education system .”
Jan Robertson, interim director of growth investments at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Estendio has the potential to be Scotland’s next big digital success story.
“By building on previous advisory and financial support with fresh investment, we are supporting the company’s ambitions to develop its products, create jobs, and expand internationally. In turn, this can encourage the continued growth of Scotland’s thriving tech sector and have a positive bearing on the country’s economic recovery.”
As the chairman of the neuro-diversity in tech group (run by Skills Development Scotland), Mr Hughes encourages Scottish companies to make their hiring process and work environments more accessible and welcoming for all.
He hopes this recruitment round will contribute to closing the neuro-diversity digital skills gap in Scotland, by providing exciting career opportunities in tech, with a company with a genuine passion and dedication to accessibility.