The Melbourne mum who made school notes her business

Julie Bray found her small business idea at the bottom of her daughter's backpack.

Konnective started by addressing communcation between parents and schools.

How many of these bags contain school notes that will never 'make it' home? Source: SBS

Sifting through crumpled school newsletters and notes in her little girl's school bag, Julie Bray decided there had to be a better way for teachers and parents to communicate.

Konnective is her solution; a secure broadcast platform that sends out notifications through a smartphone app.

It's become a high-growth business with its sights on the global market.

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"Putting notices in a child's school bag - the children aren't necessarily a very reliable carrier at all times. So you often find that it never actually makes it to its destination."
Creator Julia Bray shows journalist Sarah Abo how to use the app.
Creator Julia Bray shows journalist Sarah Abo how to use the app. Source: SBS
But what if there was another way? Perhaps more unconventional?

With a background in technology, Julie Bray's answer, was creating an app.

"I just knew that there was a better way that schools could engage with parents and that's where the idea of Konnective came from. To be able to push messages directly out to parents at the time they need it."

From permission notes to upcoming events, the Konnective app, allows schools to send up-to-the-minute messages to a smart device.

"They might be at work and get a message that says you need something for tomorrow, which means they've got some time to prepare."
Julia and her husband, Konnective's chief technologist  Brad Kazazes.
Julia and Konnective's chief technologist Brad Kazazes. Source: SBS
Privacy was a key factor Julie and technical partner Brad Kazazes, sought to ensure.

"Konnective is very much built around security and privacy, so you can set up different groups and you can set security levels on those groups. You can have it as an invite only, situation, or you can actually have people to request approval and then they go through an approval process. So it's all about making sure that the organisations who send messages are very confident about who sees them."

It's simple to use, with a familiar Twitter and Facebook-style feed.

"There's a wide range of things that you can get, so we've got some example here - the first one is a survey that someone has sent out, to get some opinion."
The Konnective app is a secure broadcast service with inbuilt features like a calendar.
The Konnective app is a secure broadcast service with inbuilt features such as event alerts. Source: SBS
Konnective accommodates images or attachments.

"The app can also send out events as well so with each event you can simply tap 'add to calendar' button and then it's in your own, personal calendar."

From a handful of schools in 2012, Konnective expanded to 50 following a Victorian government grant, and has since gone national.

Julie's focus then turned to other gaps in the market.

Today, their clients include a major carmaker and BHP Billiton.

"At this point we're working in a wide range of industries helping companies to engage with their workforce, Julia said. "And that's particularly non-desk based workers, so if you look at nurses in hospitals, or truck drivers on mine sites or a chef in a restaurant. They don't sit at a desk and so they don't have access to email and often they're not actually connected to the corporate networks."
The app will next shift focis from education to healthcare.
The app will next shift focus from education to healthcare. Source: SBS
Healthcare is another growing industry, with employers sending alerts about vacant shifts.

"We found with one particular organisation, because they're filling more shifts from their existing personnel, they've been able to reduce the expense of hiring agency workers, and that's reduced their cost by almost 70 per cent."

In the past year, Konnective's revenue has grown by 150 per cent.

"This is software as a service, it's a fantastic model to be able to scale and we've always built the solution so that we could scale whenever we needed to."

Getting a foothold in the U.S is next on their agenda.

"We've got big plans, so the next step is to go globally with this, and we're starting to identify those countries that we'll move in to next. Because this is a problem that we've realised and know that we can solve."

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4 min read
Published 21 October 2016 at 3:50pm
By Small Business Secrets
Source: SBS