EduBills is on a mission to help schools go cashless

13 Dec 2011

Sandra Maguire, founder and managing director of EduBills

Irish start-up EduBills has come up with an inventive way to take cash out of the equation when parents are paying for their children’s schoolbooks, uniforms and supplies.

Founded in 2010 by Sandra Maguire, EduBills is one of the 12 start-ups that are launching as part of DCU’s 12 Days of Christmas initiative.

It was while she was working in a primary school back in 2010 that Mcguire saw a niche for an online payment system that would take away some of the hassle when parents and caregivers are paying school bills or purchasing books.

As well as this, from a school’s perspective, she felt that such an online system would also reduce administrative costs, making it a win-win for everybody.

Speaking this morning, Maguire, whose background is in financial services and computers, said the idea for the business struck her while she was working at her children’s school and had to process payments from parents, an onerous task, especially as payments often came in huge volumes of envelopes.

“I didn’t realise that I would have to sift through 400 envelopes, with parents often forgetting to put the name of the child or family on the envelope, so it really takes up a lot of administrative time.”

And because children are often carrying the envelopes with money in them, they can sometimes get lost along the way, added Maguire.

She said the payment platform required a lot of research with schools, parents and suppliers, with this research being carried out along with DCU.

How EduBills works

So how does the EduBills system work exactly?

The online ordering and payments system can be customised for individual schools. For instance, a school can upload its book lists, charges and school expenses. Also, say if there are weekly swimming lessons as extra-curricular activities, or a once-off fundraiser, a school can set up a payments system for such activities.

“We will handhold through setting up their merchant banking account and we negotiated preferential rates for them,” explained Maguire.

She said the online platform aims to help reduce administration time by simplifying the reporting of payments through a school’s unique account.

EduBills is currently rolling out the online payment solution across Ireland, aiming to enter the large UK schools market in the near future.

Maguire sets the school up with an account and the school customises the billing process.

“We just did a pilot with three schools. We looked to the UK, where similar systems are running, and they charge the school a small fee so that’s the model we have taken on. The parents don’t have to pay an administrative fee,” she said.

“We are having our official launch in January,” affirmed Maguire today.

EduBills has also been shortlisted for the 2012 David Manley Emerging Business Award.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic