2018 has been Estendio’s best year yet - from launching an MVP product in January to announcing a partnership with Microsoft in December, we’re all incredibly proud of how much we’ve achieved. We want to give you all a little insight into what we’ve been up to these past 12 months and the hugely exciting plans we have for 2019. So pour yourself a wee glass of mulled wine and take a peek into our 2018 highlights!
2018 was off to a flying start when we launched Present Pal MVP to the Disabled Students Allowance market (DSA). We made our first ever DSA sale in January and Chris spent the following few months touring university disability services and needs assessment centres to spread the word about Present Pal. By giving out free licenses to all needs assessors and AT trainers, we were able to build our daily active users and gain valuable feedback on the App. In order to improve and enhance the App in response to the feedback, we raised £60,000 of investment to prepare Present Pal for the September 2018 hard launch.
By June, Estendio added two summer interns to the team to support the launch preparation. Sana and Leah devised a marketing strategy and helped Ruairidh to design the new UX for Present Pal. Our software developer Iain worked extremely hard to ensure that the team’s vision came to life in time for the launch, whilst CEO Chris continued to spread brand awareness by touring UK universities and taking part in accessibility conferences.
It wasn’t long before September crept up on us and it was time to officially launch Present Pal. On the 6th of September, Present Pal went live on the App Store and Google Play Store and we launched our website’s payment portal. This meant that all existing DSA users could receive a free update of the App and that non-DSA customers could start a 30 day free trial to try out Present Pal. Our launch exceeded our expectations and we are delighted to say that we are now supporting students in over 50 UK universities.
Our success continued into October, where Present Pal was shortlisted as one of the top 3 companies in the FutureX Global Startup Summit 2018 final. Estendio also added two new directors; Margaret Coughtrie and Iain Landsburgh.
November saw Estendio turn 4 years old and we were fast-tracked to ‘Account Managed’ status by Scottish Enterprise.
Leah also had the opportunity in November to pitch for investment at Women Enterprise Scotland’s Investor Day amongst 19 inspirational, entrepreneurial women.
A DAZZLING DECEMBER
It seems that in the final month of 2018 we really hit the fast-forward button, with ground-breaking successes…
The 3rd of December was the UN’s International Persons with Disabilities Day and to celebrate, we released the great news that we have begun a partnership with Microsoft through their AI for Accessibility programme. AI for Accessibility is Microsoft’s $25 million 5-year programme aimed at harnessing the power of AI to amplify human capability for the more than one billion people around the world with disabilities. Through grants, technology, and AI expertise, the programme will allow Present Pal to build a new data-driven feature which instinctively prompts presenters in times of distress. The news was received brilliantly and was amplified thanks to the help of the Microsoft News Centre - we even got a tweet from Microsoft’s CAO Jenny Lay-Flurrie!!!
Just two days after our Microsoft announcement, Chris hit the stage at RBS Gogarburn to pitch in the Scottish Edge final. We were delighted to be shortlisted as one of the 39 finalists from an original 280+ applications. Chris did an excellent job of answering difficult questions from the panel, and so no matter the outcome, we were all incredibly proud! After the pitch, we had a 37 hour wait (we weren’t counting, of course) to hear our fate. On the Thursday night, we were ecstatic to be called onto the stage and receive a massive Edge Award of £50,000!
As if the December successes of Microsoft and Edge weren’t enough, we recently received the wonderful news that we have been selected as part of the EIE 2019 process. EIE showcases Scotland´s most promising innovative, data-driven high growth companies and will allow us to gain the exposure needed for raising finance and brand awareness of Present Pal. Join us on the 24 April 2019!
THAT’S A WRAP!
Thanks to everyone who has made this year the best one yet. To think that Chris started 2018 as the only full-time employee and there are now 4 of us is unbelievable! We want to extend a massive thank you to our outstanding board, SEN Strathclyde, Gabriel Investments, Scottish Edge, Scottish Enterprise and Tontine Glasgow.
We’re looking forward to returning in January for an exciting year ahead; getting started on our Microsoft AI4A project, expanding our team, planning our Edge spending, participating in EIE and continuing to ensure that students with disabilities across the UK can receive our software for free!
Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2019!
Present Pal Team