With over one million second level exam students, the UK is proving a tempting prospect for Co Galway-based company Mockness which offers e-learning tools designed to help improve student performance.
With the start of the new school year the company is working on building up user levels on its UK website irevise.com which launched in April offering revision notes as well as sample exam papers and answers.
“We now have around 1,000 users and since the students went back to school we are signing up 70 new users a day in the UK. Our goal is to sign up 35,000 over the next year,’’ says company founder and chief executive Ailish Ryan.
The company’s move into the UK comes six years after the company began offering an e-learning website mocks.ie to secondary school students in Ireland.
“In Ireland we now have 30% of the Leaving Certificate market. Approximately 18,000 Leaving Certs registered with us last year as well as 10,000 junior certs, 5,000 teachers and 8,000 parents.
"We estimate that over 100,000 users have used our site since 2009.”
Starting with an online maths programme in 2009, the company developed new products, abandoned old ones and has dramatically changed its revenue model.
The founding of the company was prompted by a news item about the failure rate in Leaving Cert pass maths.
In 2008 business was slow at the fire safety company where Ms Ryan is a co-owner and director, so she set up the new e-learning company with her brother Eoghain Ryan, another engineer, securing a loan from AIB.
The website launched in March 2009.
“There were no smartphones, tablets or apps. We used Google ad words and search-engine optimisation and sent posters to schools,’’ says Ms Ryan.
Two years later the company began providing mock exam papers and aural exams to schools.
Moving with the advance of technology, Mockness launched an aural exam app on Apple and Android in 2010.
One of the biggest obstacles the company came up against was resistance to paying for services online.
Ms Ryan says it needed to find a way to monetise the 50% of users who refuse to pay for services.
“We adopted the freemium model which allows users access to free products and services in return for supplying user information upon account creation,” she says.
The resulting database has been used to sell advertising to colleges and schools. Mockness now earns 55% of its revenue from advertising.
Surveying the site users, the company found the biggest demand was for study aids and in 2013 went live with revision notes for Leaving cert and Junior Cert along with sample papers developed in house.
It stopped providing exam papers to schools as this proved unprofitable.
A second change in the revenue model was introduced this year when Mockness began selling on a subscription basis rather than a pay per product basis.
“We offer the service for €45 a year or €5.99 a month for the notes and exam questions while apps and some other products are free,” she says.
She says since the major changes in 2013 revenue has been increasing 15% a year.
Employing nine staff, Mockness has been supported by Enterprise Ireland which identified it as a high-potential start-up in 2014.
“Our aim is to have 120,000 registered users in the UK in year two and to grow the number of users in Ireland to 100,000 over the next five years.”
E-learning study-aids for secondary students.
www.mocks.ie / www.irevise.com
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