Tim is a legend around the EP halls, not only as one of the EP originals (his journey started studying with Craig Smith (Co-Founder) at university) but for also being a passionate driver of helping transform learning and education around the world.
As an EdTech evangelist, seven years ago Tim joined EP in their mission. He tirelessly advocates and educates EP’s benefits around the world, and is a huge inspiration to the EP team.
“Steve Job’s talked about computers being a bicycle for the mind. EP embodies this, by humanising technology we provide opportunities for users to achieve far more than they could without technology. Translated, this means personalisation, rich data and insights, and workflows that greatly improve efficacy and outcomes.”
Born and raised in New Zealand, I’m a husband to Kate who is supermum to 3 incredible boys – aged 6, 4, and 1. We’ve been based in Tauranga for the last 5 years and recently relocated to Singapore to support EP’s growth internationally.
I’ve always carried an entrepreneurial streak and thrive in the rhythm and energy of a fast paced ‘growth’ environment. In my capacity as CRO I have the opportunity to grow and support a team bringing EP to even more schools and organisations across the globe.
Tim’s EP story
My journey with EP started back in 2008, when Language Perfect (as it was known then) was just getting off the ground. Craig and I were in the same class at University and had mutual friends, so it was only a case of time before we connected. After being involved in the early stages, my wife and I headed to Australia to initially work at a Sydney-based Strategy and Innovation consulting firm. Prior to joining EP, I was based in Brisbane as the Global Brand Manager for Penny and Z-Flex Skateboards. Both are iconic brands within the surf/skate industry so I had some great experiences and exposure to rapidly scaling a business and brand in multiple markets.
One of the early stage employees, Scott Cardwell, seeded this idea of Education Perfect over a beer on a hot day in Brisbane. My wife Kate was recently pregnant with our first child and we were wanting to move back to NZ to be closer to family, so it was perfect timing. The idea of coming back to NZ to build a tech business alongside two friends seemed like too good of an opportunity to say no to.
How much has EP evolved in this time?
Just a little! In the early days we occupied a small room off another small room in the Commerce Building at the University of Otago. Not dissimilar to other startups, there was an intoxicating sense of possibility which created the early stage inertia propelling the operation forwards.
Although EP as an organisation has evolved through various stages of the journey, the company’s DNA hasn’t changed at all. Ultimately business is all about people and relationships and we’ve been fortunate to have a community of people rallying around our mission.
Also over this time we’ve seen schools take major strides towards 21st Century teaching and learning which has provided EP with an opportunity to accelerate growth. Increasingly schools are seeing an opportunity to transform ways of working and EP presents a very powerful step in this direction.
Simon Sinek talks about people not buying what you do, but why you do it. This really resonates as we’ve always had a sense of mission behind what we do and employ individuals who align with our vision. Getting the right people is a critical ingredient in scaling an organisation so it remains true to its mission, values and ultimately retaining the DNA of what’s made it successful to date.
NZ born and bred, how has this shaped the EP platform?
That’s a great question and I’m sure our NZ culture has provided the foundation of what’s made EP successful to date. Most people would agree that NZ’s isolation from the rest of the world has forged a culture of innovation – a can do attitude regardless of how difficult the problem is. There are many great examples of businesses that have succeeded against the odds by taking an unconventional approach.
I also think that a certain degree of naivety has been an important catalyst in our growth. When you don’t know what you don’t know, you’re forced to listen to your customers – not in a token manner, but truly listen. Observe and understand. Then apply those learnings through your offering. As your organisation scales it’s easy to prejudice questions, carry some form of confirmation bias, or seek to affirm a certain outcome. In the early days, we had such little understanding about the role of technology in the classroom, it forced us to truly understand how teachers and students could engage with EP. Over the years I’ve started to frame this naivety as empathy, as we’ve built up a phenomenal team with deep expertise in different areas. But the underlying approach of the user first, seeking to truly understand the problem, remains hard coded into the DNA of EP.
“Us Kiwis are a friendly bunch and the importance of whanaungatanga (relationships) can’t be underestimated. Business is all about people and relationships, given our distance from many major markets, we’ve continued to invest heavily in people who evangelise internationally and in turn, continuing to seek insights and feedback in order to continually refine and develop the EP platform. This ‘connectedness’ to the customers also reduces your risk as you’re less likely to invest large amounts of resources in a solution or outcome that doesn’t impact the end user in a meaningful way.”
Automated remediation is a clear winner here. Most teachers carry significant workloads which puts enormous pressure on delivering personalised and differentiated instruction for each student. This feature is so powerful.
The makeup of a Smart Lesson is also a clever innovation. Providing a scaffolded learning environment which caters for every student is such a fantastic aspect of the system.
A teacher story
There are too many to name if there is one in particular that stands out. There’s a Sydney based teacher who had two students with learning disabilities and were often not included in social environments. During a World Series event, there was a class based competition against another school and students needed as many points as possible to beat another school. These two particular students were being encouraged by others in the class to get involved and over the course of the event, became more included socially. The parents of these two students noticed a shift and found their son/daughter was more engaged in their learning. The teacher told them about the competition they were involved in, and how that encouraged inclusion. Those two students continued to be included and were far more engaged in their learning than they ever have been. Sometimes we can easily miss the breakthroughs.
Most excited about
Seeing EP mature into an organisation that caters for different needs across new industries is an incredibly exciting chapter to be entering. Steve Job’s talked about computers being a bicycle for the mind. EP embodies this; by humanising technology we provide opportunities for users to achieve far more than they could without technology. Translated, this means personalisation, rich data and insights and workflows that greatly improve efficacy and outcomes.
We’re now working across a rapidly growing number of schools globally and seeing the response from teachers in the Middle East and countries across SE Asia has been so rewarding. As our team continues to scale, we now have over 130 employees working on providing schools across ANZ – and now internationally – a platform that’s getting better every single day. It’s hard to not be excited by this.
EP in three
1. EP is a learning platform designed to elevate the role of a teacher in the classroom, and provide students with a more personalised and engaging learning experience.
2. We place a large emphasis on professional development and have a world-class team of teachers who are in schools across the globe everyday running PD to support usage and engagement on the platform.
3. The role of an educator is shifting from primarily knowledge transmission (aka traditional chalk and talk) to fostering and supporting students individual learning journey. Helping young people navigate an increasingly complex world requires independent and critical thinkers. EP provides an opportunity for students to learn at their own pace, in their own time, and whilst doing so, provide teachers with more opportunities for 1:1 support.
Your next EP adventure
I’ve never been so grateful for air conditioning! Singapore’s a brilliant place for work and business. There’s a large expat community so on a personal front, we’re enjoying the numerous BBQ invites and time in the pool. From an EP perspective, Singapore is a great base to work from and a hotbed of talent. You’re only 1-5 hours flight time to most of our markets so accessibility is very good.
Thanks for taking the time to read if you’ve made it this far.
If you’re an EP user, we can’t thank you enough for your dedication and support and we look forward to writing the next chapter of EP with you!
If you’re a prospective user, regardless of whether you’re from a school or organisation, I’d encourage you to get in touch and we can explore how we could partner together.
If you’ve ever seen EP and thought it’d be a great place to work, don’t hesitate to send a note. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Tim, every year we help more teachers and students learn and grow and we could not do it without you.