Skoolkam helps teachers take secure photos of school activities

4 Nov 2019164 Views

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Ciaran and Aurélie Cronin. Image: Skoolkam

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Our Start-up of the Week is Skoolkam, a camera application that is looking to make life easier for teachers who want to share photos and videos of school activities with parents.

Set up by husband and wife duo Ciaran and Aurélie Cronin, Skoolkam aims to solve a problem that left the Cronins frustrated, both as educators and parents.

The pair developed a cross-platform camera application that enables teachers to use their mobile devices to take pictures and videos of school-related activities in a safe and secure manner.

Photos taken through the Skoolkam app are pushed onto the school’s existing secure cloud storage provider in real time, keeping the media away from the device. This puts the school’s principal in complete control of all school-related media in a way that complies with GDPR.

Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com, the couple said: “We have witnessed this issue first-hand in schools both personally, with colleagues, and with school managers. We took this project on from a shared passion in trying to solve a pain point that is very real for teachers nationally.”

The tech

The Cronins explained that GDPR is a massive concern in Irish schools.

“How does the principal know that media is being purged properly? How do parents know what schools have on devices related to their child? Where will the data controller find the time to ensure that there is no media on any device? These are all the questions that school principals are debating over.”

To answer these questions, the duo created a cross-platform app and website that works with both G Suite and Microsoft 365 APIs to push all media captured to the school’s cloud storage provider.

“Google and Microsoft are the main cloud providers that schools currently use in Ireland. The app also removes all Exif data, which renders all media free of geotagging, which is another important safety feature,” they explained.

During development, the entrepreneurs brought in a specialist GDPR team to ensure that the app was totally compliant with Irish and European regulations.

Skoolkam's founders sit beside each other on red arm chairs.

Image: Skoolkam

Challenges

When asked about the challenges they faced during the development of Skoolkam and trying to run a business together, the teachers joked: “Where do we start!”

“Time is a big challenge, as we both still balance day jobs with Skoolkam. Finding the time to get everything done is tough. Technically speaking, neither of us are developers. Aurélie has been doing a de facto CTO role and has overseen all our testing, so lots of learning in this respect for her!” Ciaran said.

“One of our biggest issues was finding a development team that could do both the web and mobile development and be reliable,” he added. “I think we went through five or six different companies, all of which ended up having something wrong from lack of understanding of the brief, to overselling their abilities. It was tough to restart again and again.”

He also noted financial struggles, but the pair have surprised themselves with how much they have achieved despite ongoing limits caused by the need for more time and financing.

“There is a huge reward in getting that idea out of your head, rather than regretting that you never went for it.”

The future

Skoolkam is still a very young company, but the Cronins are seeing an uptake in schools moving from a free trial of the system to a formal purchase. “This is further validation that we’re adding value,” they said.

While primary and post-primary schools are the main targets now, Skoolkam’s tech is suitable for third-level institutions as well as other areas within the education sector where pictures and video are captured and concerns about GDPR and privacy may arise.

Looking ahead, the company wants to expand its team, with plans to hire a full-time in-house developer very soon.

The couple said: “We were offered some very early-stage investment but turned it down, as we were very early stage at that time. But the bridges weren’t burned!

“We look forward to having that conversation again soon but, more generally, investment is something we know we will need to grow and evolve at the rate that we want to.”

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Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com