Our second team spotlight is on Qwickly, a user-centered productivity platform for learning management systems.
Qwickly, Inc., was started by John DiGennaro and Matt Hadgis, who met while working at Baldwin Wallace University. They noticed a clear need for a tool to improve the learning management system user experience, and set off to create Qwickly. DiGennaro’s focus area is product strategy and business development, while Hadgis’ is product development, design, infrastructure, and usability. Qwickly began in 2013 and is already seeing success, with over 500,000 total users at nearly 200 schools.
What attracted you to the Flashstarts accelerator?
One of our informal advisers, Phil Bessler, suggested that we make contact with Flashstarts. He suggested we get acquainted with them and, if it looked like it might be a fit, to apply. We are just thrilled to be able to have both Jennifer Neundorfer and Charles Stack among our advisors. We had met a number of times prior to applying and had great conversations about the direction and possibilities for our company. The questions they asked and the suggestions they offered during those initial visits made us feel that this was the place we wanted to be.
Tell us about your company.
Qwickly, Inc. is a user-centered productivity platform for learning management systems (LMS). We connect the learning management system to cloud storage providers. Our product connects students and teachers to the most utilized tools of the learning management system, through an easy and elegant user experience.
Qwickly is a licensed developer for Blackboard, Google, Dropbox, Box, and Microsoft. The Qwickly building block is currently the only Blackboard Building Block that seamlessly integrates Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Box into the Blackboard Learn TM environment. It’s customizable to fit the needs of each educational institution, and is designed to dramatically simplify the workflow of common tasks within learning management systems.
We have started with the Blackboard Learn TM and are planning products for each of the major learning management systems in today’s marketplace, including open source solutions. You can check us out at http://www.goqwickly.com.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Our biggest obstacle is building with scale. As a lean startup using agile processes, we want to be competitive without needing large support, sales and marketing staffs. Because we are still new, we continue to work in a very challenging environment where every minute is precious. Gaining our first customers has helped and we hope to maintain this momentum while improving and adapting our services.
How do you like working and living in Cleveland?
We love it. The energy, the space and the interns really allow us to be completely focused on our company. With any new venture, trying to find a place to work has really been challenging. For the first time, we are proud to be able to come to a place that really feels like ours.
How do you like working with interns?
The interns have been outstanding. We simply would not be where we are today without their help. We are gearing up for an international conference, we are rebuilding our website, exploring new marketing opportunities, and engaging in social media– all of these activities would not have been happened if it were not for the interns. They bring a real excitement and, frankly, help us think day-to-day about what we need to accomplish to move our business along.
What is some advice for future interns?
This is our first experience with interns and it has been fantastic. My advice would be over-communicate– be proactive with your team and the projects, updating and even over-updating on your progress. We also need help; we’d love to hear what’s going well, and what could go better.
What surprised you about your experience at Flashstarts?
The deep level of expertise of everybody we meet. The people here easily represent the best minds in Cleveland’s startup community.
What are some things you’ve learned this summer, so far?
This is really, really hard work. We have worked hard (or we thought we had) but this is taking that to another level. Pushing for 12 weeks, non-stop, as 24/7 as we can be, has been thrilling, tiring, exciting, and scary, but ultimately, very rewarding!