We were scheduled for liftoff of the first 30 lessons of our new reading app on Wednesday, August 12th – our first anniversary after the start of fundraising. There were still fixes to be made at the end of that business day, so the launch was scrubbed at 2:00 p.m. and rescheduled for later.
This soft launch was to send copies of the 30 lessons to 10 testers who would install and test the program. They represent a wide range of experience, computer ability, teaching, and the support of our work.
The only problem was that most of them could not negotiate a way into the program because the instructions were either missing or confusing or both. We are now working to correct this situation. Our new launch date has been shifted to September 1, 2020, assuming we have cleared up this problem. The second launch will be another soft launch to a second group of testers so that we have confidence that even computer rookies can navigate the system easily.
Our New Orleans Charter School Pilot
Wilf Wilkinson is recovering at home from his fall, but as expected, he is dealing with a lot of pain control issues. His spirits are good and he is continuing some of his Rotary work. Our associate in the New Orleans charter school pilot project, Rotarian Brian Hall, has stepped into a leadership role. The two of us will complete the first stage of the project while Wilf cheers from the sidelines until we can bring him back. The NOLA charter schools resume classes this week. Brian Hall already has pledges from willing Rotary clubs to help these schools.
Once we have our second soft launch, we will be ready to dispense perks to our backers. Many of our backers are receiving complimentary copies of the app and are gifting their copies to the Amarok Society to be utilized by the Mothers of Intention. After work each day, these women are teaching slum children in their schools (read homes) in Dhaka, Bangladesh to read. These women are working miracles in the slums and deserve our support. Each mother teaches a minimum of 5 children; most teach 10 or more. We expect to add leverage to their efforts.
Advertising and Marketing
In other news, we have set up the advertising with the homeschooling and therapy communities to kick off in September (about 350,000individuals) . We have also spent the first chunk of our advertising budget, keeping our costs under control while stretching us as tight as a drum financially. Being continually on the financial edge is a good formula for not wasting precious revenues.
I have now completed 5 webinars on a variety of websites. Two were shared with a homeschooling mom who has a child on the Autism spectrum. She was fantastic. All were well received judging by the questions of interest and the lack of criticism. All but one of the sessions ran overtime because of the numbers of questions being posed.
We still have the resources to get to market. We continue to pay accounts each month. We will end up owing Nesda more than the original estimate they gave us. This is because of all of the weird events that confronted us over the last year e.g. Covid-19; lead programmers quitting without notice; other clients with more pressing immediate security needs; etc.
The company had a better month financially than I forecast, which has helped immensely. I suspect that it is a result of families deciding to augment school with homeschooling.
If our Rotary free lessons program is any indicator, it shows that more than 50,000 free lessons have been downloaded by parents, teacher and therapists so far. This project will change once schools open in the next 2 weeks. We can not give away the store forever. We will still make lessons available for a pittance, but we do need that revenue.
I am continually thankful for the feedback and support of the people involved in this project. I harken back to our launch last August 12th at Sans Souci restaurant and marvel at our good fortune because of the people who care and want to help solve problems. You are the reason that this project survives. Thank you again.