Tech Pitch: WAMBIZ

Former City investment bankers turned Birmingham tech entrepreneurs - we catch up with the founders of WAMBIZ who are "revolutionising education"

Company name: WAMBIZ
Founders: Harry Jawanda (27), Andrew West (33)
Background: Harry Jawanda and Andrew West started their careers in finance working for leading global financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank.
Based in: Innovation Birmingham

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

WAMBIZ creates private social networks that allow different groups to talk to each other using peer-to-peer communication channels. It offers a way for these distinct groups, such as students and lecturers, to share educational content, course work and administrational information with each other. It means the right information gets to the right group or individual in a way that will be read and used, not ignored or deleted.

Because different generations use different social media platforms, we build bespoke and secure networks that promote this type of engagement in a way that works for everyone.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

From a generational point of view we are in the middle of a battle between those in their teens and 20s, and those who are over 40.

In the world of education, those in charge and those in class use different social media channels; with older people relying on text and email and younger groups using platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat or Whatsapp to communicate. So the two don’t meet.

This means information is being sent out in the wrong way which costs money, is inefficient and misses the chance for vital engagement with that younger audience while at the same time being secure.

Disengagement is a real issue and it’s costing further education institutions and universities millions. Many students drop out each year because they are failing to settle in, learn about their course, or connect with other students.

Are you funded?

We have raised a total of £400,000 investment from families, friends and a number of angels, but are now looking to secure larger institutional funding in order to continue our growth.

What were you doing before starting?

Jawanda: After receiving my Information Technology Management for Business degree at Birmingham University, I moved to London to work in the financial services sector and progressed my way in the City. Yet, all along I had that entrepreneurial bug, I looked at the hotel and leisure industries first before realising how private social networks could revolutionise the education sector.

West: Jawanda and I played international hockey together and have known each other for over 14 years, so we go back a long way. Like Jawada, I too had moved into the City. When I was working for Deutsche Bank I was an initial investor in Jawanda’s first venture, which was looking at the hospitality sector. However as things developed we both recognised that the education industry was a great proposition, so I quit my job and co-founded WAMBIZ with Jawanda eight months ago.

What the best thing about where you’re based?

We’ve just become Innovation Birmingham’s 100th start-up to work out of their base at the science park. It’s near to where we’re working on our education private network pilot with South Staffordshire College.

It’s great to be working in a venue that has so many start-ups inside it with the support that comes from Innovation Birmingham. It is great to see that there are other companies who see the potential outside of London as well.

Jawanda comes from the West Midlands and both founders studied there and played hockey for local team Cannock so it’s like coming home.

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