“The concept of the app came about a number of years ago when I was teaching Accounting and had about 500 students in the theatre at any one time. I was watching them leave the theatre one day and all 500, I don’t exaggerate here, were attached to their mobile phone. It struck me that I needed to find a solution that was mobile-first to keep them engaged.
Engaging students in course content to keep them on track can be difficult. It’s a challenge academics all face. For me, having the student voice, as well as the educator’s voice, was critical to solving the problem,” she said.
But devising a solution to this problem and scaling and running a business presented two completely different challenges. However, thanks to her MBA experience, Dr Oates was equipped with the skills and knowledge to get Quitch starting off on the right foot.
“I learnt so much about the various aspects of running a business as a student at Swinburne, from the marketing and business strategy, through to financing and sustaining a business over time. It’s never straightforward or easy starting a business, and this solid grounding became so important for me later when launching Quitch,” Dr Oates said.
Educating and training through gaming
Originally designed to assist Dr Oates’ accounting classes, the Quitch gaming app is now used across a wide range of disciplines in the Australian education sector to improve student retention and boost performance – ensuring teachers understand what students are struggling with and addressing these concerns in real-time.
“Quitch is about consolidating and reinforcing students’ primary learning. It’s not about replacing a teacher, but giving students what they have asked for, which is access to material to test themselves when and where they want it.”
Quitch gives personalised feedback and guides students through a unique traffic light system on what areas they need to focus on against what they have mastered quickly – and it is all gamified. This means that students trade in the traditional burdens of textbook studying for a modern approach to learning reinforcement that places an emphasis on enjoying the study process and having fun along the way.
“We first tried it with our accounting students and it went down fantastically. They loved it and we’ve worked with students ever since to ensure it’s still working for their needs,” Dr Oates said.
Partnering with Microsoft
Following great success within the education sphere, it became obvious to Dr Oates and the Quitch team that they needed the courage to take Quitch outside of the university sector and let it spread its wings.
Today, Quitch is delivering learning outcomes across the globe with customers in the US, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK. The Quitch team has now grown to￼ 10, many of whom are Swinburne graduates, across product development, computer science, gamification, international business, marketing and customer success.
“There’s no doubt about it, Quitch has taken us into areas that we hadn’t anticipated when we started out. Organisations are now using Quitch for staff training in cybersecurity, IT training, onboarding, and in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for good manufacturing practice,” Dr Oates said.
Three months ago, Quitch proudly announced its partnership with Microsoft Teams, with users now able to download the Quitch app for use within their own organisations.
“Organisations are looking to make their training more interactive and engaging. It is such a seamless process to set Quitch up in Teams and provides real value to the organisation. The announcement of this partnership was fantastic news. It was just an extraordinary feat for such a small team to be able to deliver and it allows us to really grow our audience and the visibility of Quitch. It’s a very exciting phase for us.”
Lessons from a tech entrepreneur
As CEO of a tech start-up, Dr Oates believes entrepreneurial success comes down to finding innovative solutions to significant problems.
“I have a background in education and accounting – not technology. However, I now run a successful tech company. I would say to anyone, if you’ve got an idea – be brave, get it out there, and don’t be afraid to share it with people. Get as much feedback as you can right from the beginning and always speak with your potential customers.
“I think for success, it’s really important that there’s a clear problem and then you build that solution to solve that problem. But building it with the people who will use it is the important thing there.
“None of this success would have been possible if not for the fantastic Quitch team and advisers. It’s a true team effort, and so a huge thank you to Jessica Pitcher, Craig Baird, Sandra Carpenter, Victoria Thavamani, Callum Hawke, Kevin Bronowicki, Roxy Sefton, Michael Boag, Matt Huang, Oji Udezue, Patrick Ramsden, Reed Leighton and Gary Symons.”
Looking to engage your students or your employees in a fun way? Visit the Quitch