PRESENTATIONS are difficult for anyone, but even more-so for the 300,000 disabled students across the UK, who are often required to present as part of their university or college course. Estendio is on a mission to alleviate presentation anxiety, after Chris Hughes, Founder and CEO, experienced the challenge of presenting first hand as a dyslexic student in university.
After securing a significant investment of £450,000, the team are ready to expand their reach to support more students with disabilities via their innovative presentation support app – Present Pal. The funding, in the form of a long term Convertible Loan Note, comes from key partners including Scottish Enterprise and a handful of heavyweight private investors. The investment follows a period of rapid growth for Estendio, supporting an additional 3,000 new students across the UK this year alone.
The Ed-Tech company was founded with an initial investment of £50,000 in 2015, before going on to turn profits over the last two financial years. The multi-award-winning scale-up, established by dyslexic entrepreneur Chris Hughes, has seen company revenue triple and the team expand from 4 to 17 members during the pandemic, in spite of a highly disrupted global education market.
Estendio’s flagship product Present Pal was launched in 2018 by Chris Hughes, as a solution to the communication challenges and anxiety he was experiencing as a dyslexic university student. Three years on, the accessible flashcard app is supporting over 5,000 students with disabilities in over 100 colleges and universities across the UK to help increase their confidence and overcome their communication challenges.
A staggering 93% of university students need to present as part of their university course, however this disproportionately impacts the 300,000 UK students with disabilities, with 86% admitting that they struggle with presenting. Chris Hughes added:
“I had to give presentations 2 or 3 times a week as part of my degree. I was getting so frustrated spending hours preparing every week only to forget key information during my presentation.
After reaching out to my disability services, I was told this was a common challenge for disabled students and I was offered the chance to present directly to my lecturer or to skip the presentation altogether.
After working so hard to get into university, skipping this key skill wasn’t an option for me, so I made a solution for myself. I’m incredibly proud that today this tool now supports thousands of presenters in gaining the same experiences and opportunities as their peers”
The £450,000 investment will support the company’s entry into the North American higher education and school markets – further establishing its position as both an industry thought leader and a driving force in improving accessibility in education. Former Fanduel Chairman and Estendio Chairman Owen O’Donnell commented on the investment and the impact that this will have on the company’s future growth.
“This funding round is a major milestone for Estendio. Chris and the team have worked exceptionally hard to create an already profitable business in the UK and this investment will allow Estendio to deliver on its international ambitions, as well as reach more students within the UK education system .”
Chris Hughes, Founder and CEO, commented on the investment:
“I am hugely proud to secure this funding. The drive and determination of my board and leadership team over the last year has been monumental in what has been a hugely successful year. I am incredibly grateful to Scottish Enterprise and our consortium of private investors for the opportunity to continue on to the next chapter of the journey of scaling into international markets and becoming a game changer in the accessibility market.”
Jan Robertson, interim Director of Growth Investments at Scottish Enterprise, said:
“Estendio has the potential to be Scotland’s next big digital success story. By building on previous advisory and financial support with fresh investment, we are supporting the company’s ambitions to develop its products, create jobs, and expand internationally. In turn, this can encourage the continued growth of Scotland’s thriving tech sector and have a positive bearing on the country’s economic recovery.”
As a result of the rapid expansion, Estendio will look to create 15 further roles in marketing, software development and sales within Scotland this year, doubling its headcount again to over 30 employees.
Estendio is passionate about employing diverse and ambitious talent and is a Disability Confident Employer. As the Chairman of the Neurodiversity in Tech group (run by Skills Development Scotland), Chris Hughes continues to encourage Scottish companies to make their hiring process and work environments more accessible and welcoming for all. Chris hopes this recruitment round will contribute to closing the neurodiversity digital skills gap in Scotland, by providing exciting career opportunities in tech, with a company with a genuine passion and dedication to accessibility.