EdenFiftyOne™ is the global B2B SaaS platform that promotes the 51 universal skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening within English language education
Please introduce yourself and your startup EdenFiftyOne to our readers!
My name is Tom Reynolds. I am a former [five-times] High School ‘Head of English’, assistant head teacher and UK Specialist Leader of Education [SLE] for the teaching, learning and assessment of English. I have worked in state education for two decades: specializing in the tuition of students [11-19] with differing educational needs; disadvantaged students of all abilities and backgrounds and students with English as an additional/ foreign language.
As a post-BA-diagnosed dyslexic, my ‘skill-by-skill’ approach to English education has helped students, teachers and schools across the country to raise their examination results to record levels. My success, within education, inspired me to start an edtech company.
EdenFiftyOne™ is the award-winning edtech platform that encapsulates my ‘step-by-step’ methodology: promoting a clear, logical and equitable approach to English language and literacy education that empowers teachers, engages learners and improves experience and outcomes.
How did you get the idea of EdenFiftyOne?
A few days after completing my English Language and Literature degree in Manchester, and at the age of 21, I was diagnosed as being dyslexic.
Two months later, I decided to train as an English teacher to see if I could ‘unlock’ and better-understand the teaching and learning process, in an attempt to improve the English education experience for others.
Over a 15-year period, I realised that the English teaching, learning and assessment process could be [and should be] more logical and structured. Having studied 100s of English exam board specifications [UK and international], I identified that there are only 51 universal skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening at the core of global English education. ‘The 51’ have been shared with teachers, leaders and English academics alike for the last six years. In this time, every one of those specialists has agreed that ‘the 51’ could under-pin the teaching, learning and assessment of English education, regardless of geographical location or exam-board specification.
Knowing that this approach could support the experience and outcomes of English education for teachers and learners across the world, I decided to leave my classroom career and focus on building an edtech platform that will transform English education.
Why did you decide to start with EdenFiftyOne?
Being diagnosed dyslexic right after finishing my studies opened my eyes to a lot of things and I finally found an explanation to all the difficulties I had faced throughout my education. I knew that I could help other students who struggle with the overloading nature of English education by finding a more logical and structured approach to this subject.
As I started working on the platform, I realised how much value it could add to the world of English education: supporting teachers, school leaders, parents, employers and those looking to access global opportunities.
What is the vision behind EdenFiftyOne?
We’re on an edtech mission to empower teachers, engage learners and improve the experience and outcomes of English education, supporting inclusive and equitable access to global opportunities for everyone, everywhere…
How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?
The hardest part was to do it alone. As a solo, non-technical founder, the greatest challenge is working alone and with limited resources. My advice to my former-self, and to others, currently working in similar positions, is to get out there as soon as possible.
You may not realise it when you first begin on your start-up journey, but there are a lot of people out there, who have not only been through something similar to the mission that you are about to embark on, but crucially, that many of those people are willing to share their resources, ideas and stories to help benefit you.
Whilst a limited number of these people may want to be ‘booked-in’ in order to charge an hourly-fee, and others may want an investor/equity role for their advice/support, in my experience, people who have been through it themselves, are really eager to help those coming after them. I wish I’d known this sooner and I will do my best to reach out to those coming after me.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience is anyone who wishes to teach or learn the skills of English language reading, writing, speaking and listening in English language. We want to support schools, of course, but we also want to support individuals and adult learners. What is essential to our vision is that Edenfiftyone is an inclusive and equitable provision that serves a global community.
What is the USP of your startup?
There are 100s of English language exam boards – across the world – as examination/certification is big business. However, there are only 51 skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening at the core of the English language.
By promoting the 51 universal and permanent skills of the English language, the EFO™ platform is able to provide an unparalleled level of clarity and process.
Can you describe your typical workday?
Like most startup founders, my day probably starts earlier and finishes later than it used to when I was employed. I also often find myself working weekends and rarely taking holidays. I’m always aware that there is more I can do! However, more recently, I have tried to take more frequent breaks and my productivity has certainly increased. This is something I wish I had afforded myself before.
Where do you see yourself and your startup EdenFiftyOne in five years?
In 5 years’ time, I hope to be orchestrating Edenfiftyone’s exit. Whilst I’m passionate about remaining as part of its journey in the future, I’m happy for it to be in an advisory / honorary role.
What 3 tips would you give to founders?
The 3 things I wish someone told me when I started the business are:
1. ‘Hot-Desking’ beats ‘Working from Home’
Hot-desking in another tech start-up’s office has helped me to learn a lot of valuable lessons by osmosis: absorbing essential ‘start-up’ information by being in the right place to listen to the people/activities around me. Working-from-home has its advantages, of course, but for a solo-founder of a tech start-up, nothing beats being in the company of other like-minded teams and individuals as they straddle the challenges that you will have to face in time.
2. Attend Everything
Whilst the business is in its infancy, attend everything ‘start-up’ in your local eco-system: award ceremonies, fireside chats with guest speakers, competitions, talks, investor networking events and everything else. As above, you never know who you will meet/be introduced to whilst you are away from home and often, outside of your immediate comfort zone.
3. Use a CRM from Day 1
Record names, details and conversation-outlines with each and every person you meet at all times. Whilst they may not become ‘customers’ in their own right, keeping a record of who they are and what they do may help you to re-approach them in the future if you need a connection to someone who is not in your immediate network. Scanning though
‘Linked In’ contacts, phone numbers or email addresses is no substitute for having a designated place to record interactions that make it so much easier to refer to at a later stage.
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.