See how Canberra’s innovation ecosystem helps entrepreneurs achieve international success: the SkoolBo story

Posted 22 Mar 2017

Story by CBR Canberra

Skoolbo is an innovative online learning program that helps primary school children with reading and maths. The education program is the brainchild of local Canberran, Shane Hill.

Skoolbo immerses children in an incredible learning world that is fast-paced, exciting and rewarding. The learning platform uses algorithms to individualise the curriculum so that each child receives just the right level of difficulty.

Shane started the business in Canberra with the help of the CBR Innovation Network (CBRIN).

CBRIN is Canberra’s biggest support network for entrepreneurs. It provided Skoolbo with an early grant and has continued to support the start-up as it has flourished.

“CBR Innovation Network has been supporting Skoolbo from the outset,” Shane said.

“CBRIN gave us the opportunity to be located in Entry29 which has been fantastic for us. The vibe of the space is great, everyone is trying their hardest to make their business venture work, so there’s creativity and passion wherever you look.”

“People are willing to help each other out, whether that’s with their skills, networks or just by sharing experiences. It’s important to know that you’re not alone when facing problems while developing your business,” Shane said.

Shane’s dream is to extend Skoolbo’s reach across the globe so that every child has the opportunity to learn to read and be confident with numbers. Skoolbo is now being used in schools across Australia, U.S, UK, New Zealand and Canada and the company has offices in Canberra, London, Los Angeles and Singapore.

“In the last three years, just over 50,000 primary schools have taken on the programme,” Shane said.

skoolbo 1

While the ambition is for Skoolbo to be global, Shane is keeping its headquarters in Canberra, knowing Canberra is bursting with highly skilled people from many industries.

“This last year we’ve been building our new Preschool Play programme and we’ve found it easier to employ really high quality developers here in Canberra than I found previously in Sydney,” Shane said.

“We’ve found really passionate and highly skilled graduates from the Australian National University and the University of Canberra. Our team is filled with a mix of people who have grown up in Canberra and others who have come from all over the world,” Shane said.

Shane says that Canberra’s innovation ecosystem has been the perfect environment to grow the Skoolbo business. He encourages others to get involved in Canberra’s innovation hubs.

“I couldn’t recommend it highly enough, Canberra is great for start-ups and the support structure for entrepreneurs is brilliant.”

Shane says moving to Canberra was also a great move for his family and lifestyle.

“Canberra is arguably one of the best spots in the world for bringing up a family,” he said.

“Life here is pretty easy, there is no one that needs more than half an hour to get to work – that’s just not the case in Sydney!”