Our founder leaves and takes a look back
After 16 years at ParentMail, our founder and CEO Paul Hughes will be leaving early 2018 to begin new adventures and ahead of his departure, has been looking back and reflecting on how the company has grown since day one…
As I come to the end of my time at ParentMail, I can’t help but look back at the journey from the original school gates where the idea was conceived 16 years ago.
All that time ago we wanted to help our children’s school to reach their parents a little more easily and reliably and we knew that big savings in time, postage and printing ought to be enough for them to pay us a small amount for the service while still saving lots of money… we hadn’t even called it ParentMail at that time!
As it became clearer that schools all over the UK and millions of parents could benefit, we thought perhaps a closer look at the market and potential competitors was worthwhile. We spent days on the then ‘very young’ internet, even scouring the US to see whether someone else had thought of the idea, and couldn’t find anyone … it simply had to be a terrible idea!
But the overpowering sense of rightness prevailed and persuaded us to continue and to blaze a trail that many others would eventually follow.
16 years later and simply communicating with parents has turned into a broader parental engagement spectrum where it is now normal for parents to engage with school electronically using mobile technology. ParentMail has typically led the way with innovating in this sector, first with communications, then encompassing online payments, booking Parents Evening, completing forms and now of course it can all be done on school branded mobile Apps.
There’s no doubt that a lot has changed, not least in terms of technology which has now become omnipresent but there have been some noticeable highs on the journey.
I’ll never forget a lady from a school in Oxford calling me one day to tell me that “ParentMail had literally changed her life, and that she didn’t know what she would do without it!” I was truly grateful that someone would take the time to tell me that and I’ve been fortunate over the years to receive a number of similar calls and emails.
There have been some lows too, mainly that software at times simply hasn’t been good enough, and as the product suite has become larger, those problems can take longer to fix than I’d like. But the lows have been hugely outweighed by the highs, and I hope that we’ve changed something rather important over the years, that somehow we’ve pulled schools and parents together, and that as a result we’ve helped children too, because their parents are now a little closer to what’s going on in school.
As I move on, I leave the company in great shape, with new owners and part of something even bigger, and just as exciting. I will miss the people tremendously and the absence of ParentMail will leave a huge hole in my life, but I can’t wait to see where this wonderful business goes next and wish them all the success they deserve.