EDUCATION TECH START UP XPLOR FAST TRACKS GROWTH WITH $6 MILLION IN FUNDING
19 September 2016, Written by Lin Evlin
WHEN Mark Woodland (pictured), CEO of Xplor, left the armed forces to help out his mother's childcare centre, he quickly realised the extent of the administrative and regulatory work involved in the day-to-day running of a childcare facility. He also noticed a number of inefficiencies which could be circumvented with the right technology.
Despite not having a computer science background, Mark went to work teaching himself how to code, and he built a solution to improve efficiencies for the operation of the childcare centre so that his mother could focus on her passion, teaching.
What he did not realise at the time was that he had also built the foundations of a technology solution which has now disrupted the rest of the education sector in a major way.
"It was our solution for our problems at the time, we didn't realise it was the rest of the industry's problem as well and so over time we opened more childcare centres and more and more people were interested in what Xplor was doing in our childcare centres."
"It morphed into this education platform that solves the challenges that schools are facing, child care centres are facing and the health industry is facing so it is quite an incredible story."
In August this year, Xplor raised $6 million in Series A funding from AirTree Ventures despite the company never actually seeking out any kind of capital raising.
"We were in a very, very unique position; we were never looking for funding."
"Xplor was something we always believed in and we were always going to do it ourselves, so our story is very unique and we still today get approached by people who want to invest because they believe in our story and understand what we are doing and there is a genuine passion there."
When considering venture capital firms, Mark believes that the kind of experience which can be brought into the business is critical, perhaps more so than the money.
"We are not going to sit here and say that we know all the answers, we need experience and what investors can bring to the table (in terms of experience) and we say that to all the people who want to invest (in our company)."
"The guys from AirTree were great; they worked with us from day one and helped us with recruiting and all that type of stuff that they have the expertise in and that we didn't, so it has been a really really good process for us."
Xplor provides an end-to-end platform assisting childcare providers and educators to create efficiencies within their business through automated technology and allows parents to connect with their children.
Launched in August 2005, the platform has been rolling out to thousands of childcare centres in Australia and internationally.
Much of the $6 million investment from AirTree Ventures has gone into recruitment.
"We are using a lot of it to recruit, we have just finished recruiting a lot of our senior roles, all our heads of growth in Asia, Australia and the US are about to be finished."
"Our guys will then be hiring their teams so it's not just me sitting here picking teams, my team picks their team and they really own those who join their team."
Mark believes that a strong brand and a product which genuinely works is the key to the success which Xplor has experienced to date.
"This is a solution that people genuinely want, so yes we do marketing, but we don't do a lot. It is just a matter of showing educators or childcare centres what the solution is and people want it.
"It is a very strong brand; we do a lot of work around our brand including training educators and we are genuinely passionate about education."