A person whose alias is the “Dark Knight of cool EdTech”, who is determined to enable universities to deliver an improved student experience using the latest technologies is Tony Austwick, Co-founder of Software2.
Students expect technology, and software in particular, to ‘just work’, wherever and whenever they need it to. One of the many problems affecting Universities that Tony and his friend and Co-founder, Nick Johnson discovered in those early days was not being able to deploy all of their Windows apps with a single solution.
There was an inherent need to nurture existing IT infrastructure to ensure that the student experience is not merely unchanged, but improved – and all delivered in a way that is both cost-effective and efficient. In this way Software2 came into existence in 2009. Today, it has its offices in 4 countries, customers in 20 countries, with 1,500,000+ users, 10,000+ packaged apps, and 100+ universities.
It is market Focus which took Software2 towards success
While narrating his experience as an entrepreneur, Tony says; “Two things strike me as important from for the entrepreneur in start-up mode. Daring to be ‘super-niche’ and taking the time to listen. And I mean really listen. In the early days universities told us that the big vendors didn’t offer an easy, cost affordable way for software applications to be deployed to students. On the flip side we saw the millennial student as the most tech savvy – expecting to receive an ‘app store’ experience to get the software needed to get stuff done.”
Software2 focuses on one market –Higher Education – that their competitors neglected because; it was too complicated, procurement took ages and the legacy of one-size-fits-all virtualization solutions were expensive and ineffective. Tony shares that there were some big issues at the start. Like many tech start-ups, Software2 also found a problem to solve, and they had a great idea but no experience of starting a company and no interest in a proper set of accounts.
On top of that, finding the correct talent has hardly been their biggest ongoing headache. “In a small company each new recruit has to wear many hats and have a versatile skill set. Equally they need to be able to get on with things, anywhere on the planet, and then work within a team, and sometimes both at the same time!,” shares Tony.
Observation is the best remedy
Though having many obstacles, there was no hurdle which had the power to stop the growth of Software2. The company experienced a quick growth, from one university customer, to ten and then to more than 100 in over 10 countries. The weapon Software2 used was the ‘Observation’, the ability to listen to the market.
It so happened that the Universities told them how to improve and what features they should incorporate. Tony explains: “Our rapid growth is from the basics of listening to those problems and proposing new, exciting and even fun ways to solve them.”
AppsAnywhere, the best remedy for Universities
While working on further with the Universities Tony and his team has created another platform, AppsAnywhere. This is the world’s first context aware (it knows, who you are, where you are, your device and your operating system to deliver software in the best way) app store. Demand for AppsAnywhere is massive. It ranges from analysts, investors, partners and most importantly the Universities.
“AppsAnywhere is proving to be the next big challenge! The world wants to get its hand on AppsAnywhere – we are now solving problems across enterprise and government. Providing a super-cool user app store and linking to all the common delivery methods like VMWare, Microsoft SCCM and AppV, Citrix, Cloudpaging as well as Apple and Windows. How should we balance the opportunity we have with our current niche focus… watch this space”, asserts Tony.
Entrepreneurship Experience by the Expert himself
Being a successful entrepreneur of two successful ventures is a hard nut to crack. Fortunately, Tony has a balanced and patient co-founder to work with toad perspective to where they were heading. Tony and Nick describe themselves as “Normal” people. “Strange as that sounds, we heard about a problem and got on with solving it. Many techs fall in love with the techies or the latest widget, but for us it has always been about solving a real world problem, and being known as the best in the university virtualization market.”
It was the hard work and passion which paid off for these geeky tech buddies. They have offices in four countries and over 1.5 million students launching 5 apps every second. What else would one want! Grown fully as a team, the real challenge was and will be is to maintain Software2 as the same company they started – no suits, no long meetings, uber-mobile, and fun. “Nowadays it’s a real team effort. I am so proud of the guys we have in every office. In many ways we have been lucky as everyone who has walked through the door and joined Software2 is awesome. Without this amazing team Software2 would not be where it is today – as the leading provider of virtualization technology to universities,” says Tony
Tony’s message to young entrepreneurs, “The biggest advice I would give is to be true to yourself. If you have found a problem that you can solve in a better way than anyone else then speak with the person that you are solving it for. What do they think the value is? Listen and continue to listen.”
Website :- www.software2.com
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