Arrowtown tech start-up develops Message My Way to help schools communicate
MEDIA RELEASE FROM VIRTUAL INDUSTRIES GROUP, ARROWTOWN
February 7, 2017. For immediate release
An Arrowtown teacher and her web-developer husband have designed a new software as a service (SaaS) product for schools to effectively get their messages to parents and students.
Nicole and Greg Fawcett, owners of tech start-up Virtual Industries Group, today launch Message My Way – a cloud-based service that allows schools to communicate with parents, staff and students in an instantaneous, hassle-free way via the method most preferred by the recipient.
Instead of schools relying on sending emails, making individual phone calls or paying for an expensive app – which not all parents have access to or download – Message My Way delivers the message to the platform selected by the parents. This includes Facebook Messenger, Twitter, the school’s Facebook page, messaging apps like Slack, Kik and Telegram, as well as more traditional methods like email, SMS/text and voicemail.
It’s the only software of its kind that offers voice messaging and direct social media messaging.
“We built Message My Way to solve a common problem that schools face in communicating with their communities and to make the lives of teachers, admin staff and parents easier. Message My Way takes the hassle out of an essential, time-consuming, element of a school’s daily operations,” Greg explains.
“Message My Way is designed for schools to easily upload their databases to our software. The software has the capability to create lists into highly specific categories, which enables schools to create complex lists, if required,” Greg adds.
“It also has an easy-to-use parent interface so they can update contact details at any time, plus staff can send messages out from home, if required – for example on a snow day, or an event cancellation. Plus, the system is simple enough so there’s no specific expertise required from staff.”
The service costs $199 a year (GST inclusive) for a school of less than 500 people, and $299 for 500-999 people. Non-urgent messages are always free to send, but urgent alerts may incur carrier charges if parents choose SMS/text or voice as urgent options. These charges (between 3 and 12 cents) are passed on to schools at cost, and schools can reduce them even further by encouraging parents to switch to free alternatives like Facebook Messenger.
The couple are the creators of the highly successful SaaS, School Interviews, which has been embraced by more than 1100 schools throughout New Zealand since its inception in 2009. School Interviews is also used by more than 2600 schools in Australia, North America and the United Kingdom.
Both School Interviews and Message My Way were inspired by conversations with Arrowtown School management – and developed to meet different needs the school faced
“Arrowtown School is very tech-savvy and they’re always looking for new ways to do things better and more easily,” says Nicole, who teaches part-time at the school.
“It’s been fantastic to be able to work closely with them to create software products. They’ve been really engaged throughout the whole development process, which means that Message My Way has been built with the needs of schools in mind,” she adds.
Arrowtown School deputy principal Tim Young says Message My Way has proved to be hugely beneficial in the event of snow days last year, when they were beta testing the service.
“We did a communications survey after the second snow day and the parents just raved about it, they absolutely loved it,” Young says.
“We’d previously tried a couple of other tools but getting the buy-in from parents to download it was pretty hard. With Message My Way, parents don’t have to do a thing. That was really important to us – to have no barriers with getting the information to parents, either urgently or not. The key thing for us is that the message gets to people in the way they want it, and Message My Way definitely delivers on that.”
Greg adds: “We’re thrilled to be launching Message My Way as the new school year begins for 2017. We’ve designed it in a way to bring schools and parents together in the way parents want – it’s a simple and modern way to communicate with parents.”
Competition for schools
Virtual Industries Group is offering free Message My Way accounts to five schools for one year. To enter, schools simply need to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining an occasion when they wish they had had message my way at their school. Entries close on March 7.
How does Message My Way work?
- Parents choose how and when they want to receive messages from their child’s school. This can be via Facebook Messenger, Twitter, email, the school’s Facebook page, messaging apps, SMS/text or voice message (through an automated messaging system).
- Schools can easily upload their databases to the MMW software. The software has the capability to create lists into highly specific categories – enabling schools to create complex lists, if required.
- The software provides a parent interface so they can update details at any time.
- Message My Way’s cloud-based software means that staff can send messages out from home if required. Schools can manage messaging authority.
- The system is simple, requiring no specific expertise from school staff.
- Schools decide whether the message is urgent or non-urgent. Non-urgent messages are free and we pass the cost on to schools for urgent messages (via SMS/text and voice message).
- While other companies offer a similar product and there are personalised school communication apps in the marketplace, Message My Way is the only software to offer voice messaging and direct social media messaging.
- Like Virtual Industries Group’s successful School Interviews software, Message My Way is affordable for schools. Annual fee starts at $199.
Message My Way developers Nicole and Greg Fawcett (right), with Arrowtown School deputy principal Tim Young (centre)
For more information, please contact:
Virtual Industries Group director and Message My Way developer Greg Fawcett – +64 3 409 8165, +64 21 333 291.