54. Pobble

An online database of children’s academic writing to help teachers around the world inspire and encourage literacy

Founders: Jon Smith, Henry Smith, Simon Blower and Tom Garbutt
Founded: February 2013
Website: www.pobble.com

While Henry Smith was teaching his year five class about the Romans, one child raised their hand and asked: “Mr. Smith, can I see an example of what you want us to write?” Unfortunately, the only example was a model text written by a 40 year-old author. “What if there was a database of real examples of children’s writing that teachers could use in their classroom?” he thought.

Started by Jon Smith, Henry Smith, Simon Blower and Tom Garbutt, Startups 100 2015-featured Pobble’s noble ambition is to create a more literate world by helping teachers inspire young writers and give them a worldwide audience. Today, the site has more than 50,000 pieces of handwritten work available to access and view from anywhere in the world for free, with the audience able to share comments and feedback to help encourage their peers. Operating on a freemium model, Pobble generates revenue through an annual subscription portfolio which is a unique customisable page for a class’s writing. So far, 350 schools are paying to use the service.

Following an early crowdfunding round, the business recently closed £900,000 through a number of significant angels in the education industry. Set to turnover £1.2m in 2016, Pobble plans to use the next year to build additional features and lock in partnerships – a national competition in partnership with publisher Penguin generated thousands of entries when it launched last year. A fast-growing enterprise with a truly admirable social goal, what’s not to love?

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