Case Study: Paul Mellon & Helen McKenna, directors, Clarity Business Education
Clarity Business Education provides innovative learning resources for business owners and business students. Its directors are Paul Mellon and Helen McKenna.
What are you working on at present?
Our main focus is developing mobile learning applications. We currently have three apps from our Study SMART Business range available for sale on iTunes. We intend to develop this range across other mobile platforms this year and will launch a revolutionary e-learning portal for MBA students, Clarity MBA SMART, onto the global market.
What are your greatest challenges?
We have a small team, so our challenge is managing our time. Developing and launching a new product is labour intensive, so it means long hours and hard work.
How will you develop the company?
We are planning to grow the company into a leading provider of mobile learning products for business. Our current range of iPhone apps has attracted large sales from outside the UK, especially in the USA, Australia, Hong Kong and China.
What are the challenges in accessing international markets?
Time and resources are limited, so we can’t travel regularly to our export markets to build partnerships and raise awareness of our products. But the ability to market our products online and global access to the iTunes store has opened up marketing channels and opportunities.
How do you market your business?
We are currently rebranding and will launch our new company website, www.claritybusinesseducation.com, next month. Many of our marketing activities will be channelled through this and our related social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. We will invest heavily in online and mobile advertising this year. Our iPhone apps have attracted positive reviews and a large bank has recommended our first product, Study SMART Finance, as a tool to understand business finances.
Has the recession encouraged you to operate more efficiently?
It has forced us to look at our costs and made us better negotiators. We have learned to ‘work smarter’ and use our time effectively.
Is cash flow an issue?
Product development has been the focus of the last year, which meant a major cash investment before income could be generated. Fortunately, we have a business training and consultancy wing which generated ongoing income, enabling us to manage our cash flow effectively.
Have you had to adjust pricing?
Our products represent a highly cost effective alternative to traditional text and guidebook provision, focusing on key information. The economic climate has created an opportunity for us: students and business owners have become more conscious of their budgets.
What innovations have you introduced recently?
All of the apps in the Study SMART Business range include a unique ability for the user to add their own notes to the information and content that we provide. Each app becomes the user’s own personalised learning resource, which they can access anytime, anywhere.
How do you keep motivated?
We are both interested in personal development. We find books and autobiographies of successful entrepreneurs provide strong motivation. The ability to check our daily sales figures on iTunes is another source of motivation.
Which entrepreneur do you most admire?
Dr Ed Marram, a successful US entrepreneur who leads the world renowned business school at Babson College in Boston, heads up our board of advisors and provides inspiration for the company. We also have great admiration for Northern Irish entrepreneur Will McKee, who has given us invaluable guidance.
What is your favourite gadget?
We couldn’t function without our iPhones.
If you could do any job, what would it be?
Director of a multi-million pound company with a strong international reputation — one day, we hope.