Nuno Gomes, Tiago Vidigal and Helder Marques have been friends since the time they were students at Técnico. Later, they started their professional careers in the same company, and their friendship turned into a business partnership. “The idea of creating Growappy came up naturally, since we have been friends for a long time and we are fully aligned as a team. We have always had a common dream: to create an innovative project with an impact on society to improve people’s lives”, says Nuno Gomes, Técnico alumnus (Information and Communication Network Engineering), CEO and cofounder of Growappy.
The idea behind this innovative platform comes from their personal need, when they became parents. “When our children started school, we realised that the communication between school and families was not the best. The school often communicated with us by email, sometimes by whatsapp / facebook groups, and the information was not personalised or organised, since we received photographs and videos of our children classmates”, recalls the alumnus.
“As parents, we wanted to be more present in our children’s daily lives, but we wanted to get the school information in a personalised and safe way, respecting children’s privacy”, stresses Tiago Vidigal.
Growappy was created in the beginning of 2019. The platform brings a new way of communication between nursery/kindergartens and families, centralising all communications, as well as the child’s entire school process, into one single platform. “In fact, we offer schools a complete solution that facilitates the daily lives of principals and educators, in tasks such as communication, children’s daily records, preparation of pedagogical documentation according to the guardianship. We prepare schools for remote classes and we simplify bureaucratic issues such as billing”, stresses Nuno Gomes.
The families, which are an essential part of this communication process, have access to a unique experience of monitoring their children in real time, with a focus on information sharing, security and privacy.
Although the project has started in 2019, the communication service with families was launched in 2020. “In a short time, Growappy has become a reference platform in childhood education in Portugal and a strong ally of principals and educators”, stresses the CEO. “The market has very positively surprised us, with more and more schools looking for us to understand how we can help them”, adds the alumnus. The team of entrepreneurs is proud to say “several dozens of schools use Growappy, and not one single school had given up so far, which demonstrates the value that the platform adds to the school community”.
According to Hélder Marques, one of the innovative features of Growappy is that it allows sharing photos ensuring compliance with GDPR. “When the educators take a photo of children, they are automatically identified and the photo is sent only to their parents. The school doesn’t have to worry about privacy criteria, since the parents themselves can choose to to have their children out of focus for other parents”, explains the Técnico alumnus.“This allows for a simpler and faster content sharing, but above all, that the wishes of parents are respected with regard to the privacy of their children”, he adds.
“Growappy’s artificial intelligence system considers the various observation and assessment records prepared by teachers and educators over time”, highlights Nuno Gomes .
A powerful ally to improve the digital transformation in Education
The pandemic has made the importance of digital transformation even more evident in various sectors of activity, including education “Growappy appears as a strong help to nursery and kindergartens that lack adequate, safe and simple digital solutions, especially to communicate with families”, say the Técnico alumni.
The startup adapted to the pandemic and during the first lockdown the entrepreneurs decided to offer the platform service to all schools, thus helping educators to a smoother transition to online teaching.
Growappy allows educators to interact with children in synchronous or asynchronous activities, attach documents and elaborate questions. “Families, in turn, will be able to deliver the children’s work in a more structured and organised way”, stresses Tiago Vidigal.
In October 2020, Growappy won the ‘Acredita Portugal’ award in the ‘Education’ category. According to Nuno Gomes, this award brought a lot of visibility to the project. “Winning the biggest entrepreneurship competition in the country, which involved more than 10 600 participants, was extraordinary. We began to attract media attention, which gave us a greater visibility among schools and families”, recalls the alumnus.
According to Nuno Gomes, the team priority at the moment is “to consolidate Growappy in the national market and become the preferred platform for childhood education in Portugal”. Some schools in Cape Verde are already using the platform. “We have already started Growappy internationalisation, which is our future ambition – to expand it to more countries”, shares the Técnico alumnus.
“Técnico teaches its students to achieve professional excellence”, says Nuno Gomes. “The technical skills we acquired at Técnico enabled us to develop a complete solution in an autonomous way, and the soft skills, such as creativity, enabled us to deal with complex problems; we also learnt to develop resilience to overcome adversities and the importance of mutual support”, he adds.
Growappy is available for iOS and Android, and promises to continue to positively impact the lives of thousands of people. The platform’s name itself – which is the combination of 3 words: Grow, App (Application) and Happy – reminds us of the importance of a children’s growth, full of happiness, under the educators and country’s watchful eye.