Q&A With Robert Baker, CMO and Co-Founder of Mac to School
EdTech Times spoke to Robert Baker, co-founder and CMO of Mac to School – a California based company that sells recertified Apple products to K-12 market. Please join us in learning about Robert and his company.
Company at Glance:
Founders: Robert Baker / Justin Sanderson
Category: Computer Hardware
Product stage: Market
ETT: What is the market segment your company is in?
RB: Mac to School sells recertified Apple devices to the K-12 market.
ETT: How did you come across the problem you’re addressing and how did you define it – what was your process in identifying it?
RB: Apple devices are amazing learning tools. The one downside, they are expensive. So the question became, how do we deliver these devices into the hands of more students?
ETT: And how did you develop a solution to this particular problem and what was your process of arriving at it?
RB: We took a look at the entire lifecycle of Apple devices in K12. We knew that while Apple devices are initially expensive, they do outlast their PC/Chrome counterparts and deliver great long term value. We found that we could use our expertise in Apple service to recertify devices and deliver Apple equipment that could give educators more access to the Apple ecosystem at a fraction of the price.
ETT: What it is that you’re doing differently than your competitors? And do you expect to develop other differentiators in the future?
RB: We are 100% focused on the Apple K-12 market. We stock thousands of iPads, MacBooks and iMacs in multiple configurations to meet the unique needs of our education customers. We work closely with schools across the country to unlock the most value out of their existing Apple devices through our Apple buyback program. Service is our greatest differentiator. Our post sale support and warranty process is the best in the industry. We’re constantly working with our education customers and industry partners to find new ways to improve the Mac to School experience.
ETT: Please describe your business development strategy. What we should expect to see from your company in the next 12 months – i.e. describe your potential next milestones?
RB: Our business development strategy is to continually improve our service by engaging our existing customers and to further build awareness in the education market. In the next 12 months you will see our team at more education shows and events throughout the country. An upcoming milestone for us is moving into a larger facility that will allow us to process more devices.
ETT: Could you tell us about other startups that you have been a part of and what your role was?
RB: Mac to School was born out of MacService. MacService is a nationwide mail-in Apple repair company that we started over a decade ago. My role was to help build the company’s service reputation into the gold standard in the marketplace. Many of the same lessons we learned on how to take care of customers translated directly over to Mac to School.
ETT: Did you or do you currently have a mentor who is/has been helping you through the startup stages of the company – who is that mentor?
RB: We’re lucky enough to have a great network of industry veterans who have been instrumental in helping us navigate the early stages of building the company. Part of my job is reaching out to those that have been in edtech on both sides of the equation and learning from their experience.
ETT: Where is education technology market going in the next few years?
RB: It’s exciting to see how edtech startups are using the power of today’s devices and the Internet to enable dynamic learning. I’m of course a die-hard Apple fan, but I strongly believe that devices choice and diversity makes for a better learning environment. Businesses are finally coming around to allow their employees to pick the device (Apple, PC, Android) that is going to help the employee work more effectively. I see education technology also moving in that multi-platform direction where educators have the freedom to pick the device that is going to allow them to teach most effectively.
ETT: What advice, if any, do you have for someone thinking about launching a company in the education technology market – especially whose service or product is tied to one company such as Apple?
RB: We often get asked, “why not sell recertified PCs or Chromebooks?” Our answer is those markets don’t work with our business model. The margins, customer expectations for service and quality, just don’t fit with how our culture is set up. My advice for someone starting any business is to focus on where your value is and work really hard to execute that. Knowing when to say “no” to a product or feature is just as important as knowing when to say “yes.” Find out how to match what you’re good at with what you’re customers want and you’ve got a winning combination.
EdTech Times thanks Robert for sharing with us his insights and thoughts, and we recommend you learn more about Mac to School by visiting their website at:
Yevgeny Ioffe, or as people call him, Yev, has been working in both the startup world and established companies. His career spans from joining Xplana Learning as it launched to Cengage Learning to MBS Direct when it acquired Xplana in 2009. Yevgeny brings to EdTech Times his passion for start-ups and technology, along with his interest in the ever evolving world of edtech. Yevgeny obtained his BSc and MA from Brandeis University and MBA from Boston College.