Innovators In Focus: Queno –– The Startup That Put A School In An App

We believe that businesses should be supported, encouraged and celebrated. That’s why every month, we are going to choose a business that we feel deserves the limelight. Keep reading to find out more about the startup for this month and the innovators behind it – let’s all lift each other up: 

Technology has been revolutionising different aspects of the economy for a while now. Banking, online shopping, digital payments, social collaboration, healthcare and much more is now available to us with the touch of a button. Just like everything else, education is also continually undergoing a tech revolution. One of the startups that is contributing to it is Queno. Co-founded by Muhammad Zubair and Farida Kanwal. Queno aims to connect parents with their child’s school and essentially, place the school within an app. Through Queno, parents are able to track the progress of their children at school, monitor daily task updates, receive teacher notes to parents and more. It also reduces the manual work for teachers in regards to things like attendance and calendars. We had the opportunity to learn more about this amazing initiative and talk to both, Farida and Zubair, about their company. Scroll down to learn more about their enterprise:

How would you describe Queno?

Queno bridges the communication gap between parents and teachers by providing a mobile application to schools. It’s a productive tool for administrators and teachers to foster parents’ engagement in their child’s academics. Teachers just have to write once and it’s instantly shared with the parents. No more manual homework diaries, bulky registers or unnecessary data collection. Queno also enables online tuition fee payment for parents and helps in automated payments reconciliation for school accountants.

What would you say is the unique appeal of Queno?

Unlike all other softwares, Queno is a smartphone application. In Pakistan, people were not familiar with the concept that your classroom can reside in your mobile phone. They didn’t realise that it’s possible to learn or share classwork activities even when you are not at campus. Secondly, Queno is the only product that offers a school owned private chat feature for parents and teachers. We are also leading in online tuition payment enablers, which is our USP (unique selling point).

Queno aims to provide more efficient communication between parents and students. How did you come up with the idea for this?

We were struggling with generating unique ideas when we came across a mother at a wedding who was stressing over her daughter’s exam the next day. She was trying to recall what was in the syllabus and if her daughter covered all the topics. That’s when it clicked to us – parents cannot carry physical copies and homework diaries with them all the time, but they always carry their smartphone. What if we put the classroom in their mobile phone? And so Queno took birth.

What do you consider your biggest success so far?

It is rightfully said in business terms that if you succeed in getting your first customer, then that means your product is validated. Our initial big success was the first school that came on board with us. As of now, connecting more than 50 schools to their thousands of parents is our biggest achievement. To be named Forbes 2020 list is also of course a milestone we never planned to achieve, but Allah Kareem rewarded us in this respect too.

Farida, as a female entrepreneur, what has been your biggest challenge up until now?

Queno is an Ed Tech company so technology is a core component obviously, and while we are making schools digitise, I have also unfortunately seen a taboo in Pakistan regarding women teaching or talking about technology. 90% of a school’s administration is made up of men. Whenever I go and tell them about Queno, they never take interest and literally make me feel as though I am a young girl. Not every school has been like this, but the majority of schools did have this attitude. This used to put me down, but now I believe that their negativity has only made me feel stronger and more firm about my product.

Regarding Edtech in Pakistan, what are some of the challenges you have faced?

Schools have been using manual methods to perform their daily tasks for a very, very long time, so it’s hard to change the mind-set of people. Lack of technology is another hindrance. People do possess smartphones, but they don’t always understand the functionality and benefits of it so we often have to train the teachers and parents on how to use the app.

Are there specific milestones that you are working towards at the moment?

We are working on launching our online fee payment module to more than 50 schools by June. By the end of 2020, we hope to have 100 schools onboard with us.

Has COVID-19 impacted the way you run your business?

It has actually, but in a positive manner. Due to the lockdown, our business accelerated as now people understand the importance of online learning. Schools have started their virtual classes through Queno. Everyday. more than 6000 students are getting taught by 700 teachers from different schools.

What are some potential ways one can support your business?

Referrals to schools is obviously a massive help, but we are also looking for support from Ed-Tech space companies to partner and collaborate with so that together we can serve better. We are also looking for support from the Government to give us ease in taxes as we are also supporting schools during these tough times by not charging them a full fee during Covid-19.

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