The pandemic-driven push to online learning has helped edutech company Skodel prove the value of its technology, as schools turn their attention to better monitor the mental wellbeing of their students.
Launched in March, Skodel’s online platform is being used by over 80 schools across Australia and New Zealand to deliver real-time data on student wellbeing through regular and private wellbeing 'check ins' with teachers.
Skodel sends regular short form surveys to students which help teachers identify and support students in need of assistance and enables schools to track wellbeing trends across cohorts.
Buoyed by the initial response, the company has raised $1.8 million from investors including Thorney Investment Group headed by billionaire Alex Waislitz, Bridge Climb founder Paul Cave, and Amaysim co-founder Peter O’Connell.
Twin brothers Ian and Julian Fagan started Skodel, which is valued at $7.9 million, after dealing with mental health issues themselves while at school.
"I actually spent a bit of time out of high school because of mental illness and Julian obviously being my twin brother, we have a pretty unique bond and a really close bond as well and so he was a primary supporter for me during that time," Ian Fagan said.
The 28 year olds knew increasing numbers of young people were struggling with mental illness and looked at what schools were offering to manage student wellbeing.
"In a typical school day you're not really as a young person given an opportunity where you would feel engaged, comfortable and safe enough to actually let someone know that you're struggling, or how you're feeling," Ian Fagan said.
Julian Fagan said the coronavirus pandemic had "sharpened the focus for schools" on mental health making it a higher priority.
"What it's really doing is it's shifting the conversation you have in school communities right now," he said.
The pair will use the funds raised to expand their product offering including resources to assist students and teachers informed by the data collected.
Investors have been attracted by both Skodel's business model and the social impact the startup could have.
"In many ways, the world today is a much more complicated place to be a young person," Mr Waislitz, chairman of Thorney Investments said.
"We recognise the importance of Skodel’s technology and its potential to have a positive impact on mental illness by providing real-time data on how students are feeling and equipping students with the social and emotional skills to cope through tough times."
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