INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Award-Winning EdTech Entrepreneur Talks about Growth in the Midst of a Pandemic
Joy Foster of TechPixies tells us how it has helped thousands of women learn how to leverage social media to return to work, change careers or start a business.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Joy Foster: Coping, thanks! We seem to have found a routine of walks, homeschooling, and family movie night which is getting us through. We’ve all learned how to play a musical instrument too!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded TechPixies.
Joy Foster: I share my story here.
How does TechPixies innovate?
Joy Foster: Our motto is ‘always be improving’ when it comes to innovation. We have a single course that we’ve launched 26 times, each time improving the customer experience to get better results for the student.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Joy Foster: Our business grew massively, and it put a real crunch on our ability to keep up with growth. I had to get a new investment in place to cope with the growth!
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Joy Foster: Yes, of course! Any company that is growing will hire people, and not everyone you hire is going to be the right fit. Having company values helps you work out if they are a good fit or not long term. One of the things that one of my investors once asked when we were about to hire someone was, ‘Would you go on a road trip with this person?’. It was a great question, and it has helped me a lot when trying to decide who to hire. You often want to help someone out by giving them a job – but really – you want someone who is passionate about helping you reach the next level! I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. That said, everything happens for a reason – so I always know that people we let go of will land on their feet because they’ll find something that is a better fit for them in the future.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Joy Foster: We evolve this every day! We have an answering service, so if someone calls the office, someone will always pick up the phone. We also have a dedicated support inbox which has made a huge difference, and we now track how long it takes to clear out to inbox zero. We also leverage social media to maintain relationships and have a thriving student group with a 95% participation rate on Facebook.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Joy Foster: YES! We have used several grants over the years! We launched with a grant from Better Broadband for Oxfordshire, which came via the Gov’t Equalities Office. We have also received grants from OSEP/OxLEP and UnLtd. As a social enterprise, these grants have been a lifeline when we’ve needed them.
Your final thoughts?
Joy Foster: I feel super lucky that we moved our business online in 2018. I would never have predicted how vital that move was going to be just 3 years later. I’ve also been thankful for all the support I’ve received over the years from the Oxford entrepreneurial community as well as my board of advisors and investors, and of course, huge thanks to my amazing team!
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