EdTech Startup Q&A with Chris Twyman, founder of BoomWriter
For today’s edtech startup profile, EdTech Times spoke with Chris Twyman of BoomWriter, an award-winning literacy website that lets teachers conduct collaborative writing and sharing activities with students to improve their reading, writing, vocabulary, and peer assessment skills.
Company at a Glance
Date founded: 2010
Founder’s name: Chris Twyman, Ian Garland, and Ken Haynes
Company Twitter: @BoomWriter_
Market Segment: Education Technology
Product Stage: BoomWriter has been in market for 5 years; Recently launched PRO version in September 2015; developing new product, BoomWriter for Districts (BWD) to launch later this year
What does your company do? Who are your core customers?
BoomWriter is a group-writing website that is free for any and all teachers to use in any subject and at any age or grade level. By blending writing and technology, BoomWriter’s engaging group content-generating platform can be easily integrated into existing curricula for various subject areas, and is ideally suited for a variety of learners in grades 2-12.
How did you come across the problem you’re addressing? What was your process of arriving at a solution?
It’s funny because I’m technically not an educator, but I am a dad and I had an idea around using technology to facilitate sharing and collaboration within schools, which I felt was lacking. I ran the idea by one of my co-founders, Ken who was my daughter’s teacher, and we built it and tested it in the classroom. The students absolutely loved the process, and BoomWriter can now be found in over 30,000 classrooms spread throughout more than 60 countries!
What are you doing differently than your competitors? Do you expect to develop other differentiators in the future?
Our writing process is very unique, so in that sense there aren’t any pure competitors. I do, however, know there’s competition for classroom “shelf space” and to become part of the curriculum. There are a lot of edtech products out there, but only so many hours during the school day. We’ve simply tried to create products that are engaging for students, academically relevant and impactful, and easy for teachers to use.
What are you working on currently? What should we expect to see from your company in the next 12 months? (e.g. product milestones, team size, potential growth/revenue targets)
We’re very excited with what we’re currently focused on because we believe we have something that’s very unique and has great potential to positively impact a lot of districts. It’s our BoomWriter for Districts program, what we call “BWD”, that will provide a unique and comprehensive edtech solution for districts seeking help in this area. The maintenance and ground crews don’t assemble the new playground structures: districts hire companies to do this. We provide this very same service, only it’s a cross-curricula edtech solution and not a playground structure.
How are you changing the face of education?
Great question, and that’s one of the things about BoomWriter that I’m most proud. Not only do we inspire students to write with an engaging platform, but we facilitate the creation and sharing of ideas, as well as students’ interpretations and understandings of information being presented in the classroom.
What other startups or product builds have you been a part of, and what was your role? How has your past career prepared you for your current role?
I also founded a company called Zapoint, Inc., which provides a web-based career management tool for large enterprises. That experience taught me a lot in terms of how to maximize resources and minimize potentially costly missteps, but going from enterprise software to edtech has been a significant transition so I still learn a lot each and every day.
Who do you look to as a role model or mentor for your company?
Geoffrey Moore is a top 10 marketing strategy writer whose most famous work “Crossing the Chasm” has been a must read for people in the tech sector for the last 20 years. Geoff is on our Advisory Board at BWM.
Where do you think the education technology market is going in the next five years, especially in your market segment?
I believe technology will play a role in facilitating more collaboration with schools to better prepare students for the future. It’s ironic, but we appear to be in an era where more and more people are working remotely yet the need to and levels of collaboration amongst people in the workplace seems to be increasing at an equally rapid pace. I also believe that the continued proliferation of social media will create more of a demand for technology like ours, which improves students’ communication skills.
What advice, if any, do you have for someone launching a company in the education technology market?
I truly believe in following the three key edtech principles coined by my co-founder—who’s held roles in education as both a teacher and administrator—that we adhere to religiously at BoomWriter, which are to produce edtech products that are:
- Engaging for students
- Academically relevant and impactful
- Easy for teachers to use
Ilana is a student at Emerson College pursuing a degree in Marketing Communication with minors in Psychology and Entrepreneurship. She previously worked at Ogilvy, Sambil, and Fundana.