We are back from a great few days at the ExCel Centre in London's Docklands at the Bett Show 2014.
To be honest I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy it. Four days of handing out leaflets and encouraging people to have a demo of the Jigsaw School Apps sounded a bit daunting for a shy librarian like myself :-) Also, sounded like hard work too!
|My new job title :-)|
We stayed in the Ibis hotel near London City Airport so that we could walk into the ExCel each morning. Then in the evening we just about managed to hobble to the pub in between (the excellent Fox @ Connaught) for food and a reviving drink before hobbling back to the hotel for an early night, so we'd be ready for the next day!
Nathan and his business partner Darren had gone down lunchtime on the Tuesday - so that they could set up the stand the day before it started. I met them that evening after I had finished work and caught the train down. I said "Okay - what is the plan for tomorrow then?" and they said "No plan - we'll just wing it!" It was the first time they had exhibited at such a show, In fact, none of us had been to the Bett Show before. We had no idea what to expect. They were a little worried by the size and showiness of some of the other huge stands. I think we felt we would be sad and ignored up the corner.
|Our first time!|
However, we nervously paced up and down the carpet as we waited for the Bett lady to announce that Bett 2014 was open at 10am on the Wednesday. Before long there were people walking towards us. It started a little hesitantly but soon there were many visitors to the stand. I discovered that if you didn't make eye contact and give them a leaflet they wouldn't necessarily stop. But as soon as they realised what they were doing - they were happy to have a demo of how great their apps could look and how easy it was to put content into the apps from the web-based control panel.
|Almost ready for business!|
Nathan and Darren were great at giving demos - so enthusiastic and funny. They know the products inside out as this whole concept is their baby. It really shows that they care about getting everything perfect. So many people were impressed - especially with the new feature they were launching - the translation service. It means that parents can download the app for free from their app store (and they are the only ones to include Windows phones as well) and then choose what language they would like to read the content in. Many schools have parents who do not have English as their first language and we stressed how important parent engagement was. Also the survey feature means that schools can get instant feedback from parents - another thing Ofsted are very keen on.
|Okay - bring it on!|
Friday was the busiest day and at one point there were queues waiting for demos! I got so used to saying "Are you interested in school apps? School to home communication?" Quite often someone would say no, then take a leaflet , start reading it- then back up and say "Actually yes we are! We were discussing this last week"
I said to one lady - "Would you like to come back later when they are not so busy?" but she said "No, I'll wait here until they are free!"
|Lots of interest......|
|Free biscuits and mints :-)|
We'll have to see how many of these contacts turn into orders. We gave out almost 2500 leaflets too. As well as schools they also had interest and offers from other companies who want to work with them. - who were also exhibiting. They have lots to think about in the next few weeks.
I also enjoyed walking around to look at some of the other exhibits. There was so much going on all the time. We were giving away iwipeys - branded to Jigsaw School Apps. To be honest N and D spent almost as much time explaining what they were and how they worked - as they did the apps! :-)
Another stand that made us smile was the BT Global Cloud Sharing one - it was some kind of RV that had been parked in the middle of the hall. It reminded us of the RV in Breaking Bad - so Nathan just referred to it as the "meth lab". I got him to take a photo of me sitting on its steps :-)
|The "mobile meth lab"|
|Where's it all gone?|
So, after four fun, exciting, busy and tiring days we had to dismantle the stand and get out of the ExCel Hall in half an hour. That's when they started pulling the carpets up to allow the lorries and fork lift trucks in to dismantle and move the bigger stands.
We feel that Jigsaw School Apps has been successfully launched upon the world :-)
It was so great that when we got back home Nthan and Darren signed up to go to the Education Innovation Conference 2014 in Manchester on 27th and 28th of February. I enjoyed this so much I've booked two more days holiday so I can go along and hand out leaflets again!