Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools were confronted with having to teach remotely for the first time and consequently, were forced to adapt to the online world. Cloudwise has already been working to facilitate this type of digital transition for smaller and larger schools for several years. Thanks to their personalised approach, Cloudwise was experiencing a high-growth phase even before the pandemic.
“How do you build a successful company? It’s a combination of the right product, the right time and the right market,” says Huig Ouwehand, Co-Founder of Cloudwise. Ten years ago, when IT professionals Huig, Gijs and Gert-Jan first approached the world of education, they were struck by how many schools still used local systems instead of cloud solutions. Smaller primary schools in particular did not have the budget to hire their own ICT specialist or to set up their own cloud system. The three entrepreneurs then developed a solution that would fit these schools the best.
The goal of Cloudwise is to help (smaller) education institutes become more efficient by adapting a well-functioning and affordable ICT system. While their product was mainly about simplifying the internal administration of the schools in the beginning, today Cloudwise also develops cloud solutions that support both teachers and pupils in their learning experience. For example, teachers can digitally control what children are working on, which helped them deliver better education when schools were closed because of the lockdown.
A human approach
Their high-quality ICT solutions are not the only factor behind the growth of Cloudwise to become one of the Top 250 Scaleups in the Netherlands. “We have strived since the very beginning to offer the best possible service to our clients. We do everything we can to assist our schools’ staff with their IT problems,” says Huig Ouwehand. “The relationship with our customers is personalised and humane: anyone can call us at any time and we are always there for them. This was and still is very refreshing in this sector, which is also how we try to make a difference.”
Cloudwise wants customers to always feel good about their products and services and this has been paying off. This is exemplified by the fact that around 300 new primary schools start using their services every year.
The rise of online education
As remote learning was already a trend before 2020, the founders of Cloudwise don’t see the COVID-19 pandemic as the main explanation for their fast-growth in the last months. At the same time, though, social distancing rules implemented to slow down the spreading of the coronavirus did make the need for a well-functioning ICT system within primary schools even more pressing.
Once again, their customer-oriented approach helped them deal with the new challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Immediately after the first announcement of the lockdown, Cloudwise started training teachers on how to get the best out of online teaching. This has enabled many schools to make use of their IT systems while preserving the quality of their education for their students.
How does the future look? Huig Ouwehand expects that digital education will only increase, but not necessarily in the form of remote education: “We also hope that children will keep learning through in-person interactions, but there are still advantages in spending time on the computer. It’s not about the quantity of digital education, but the quality” concludes Huig Ouwehand.
With the current growth, their place in the 2021 edition of Top 250 Scaleups did not come as a complete surprise. Back in 2018, Cloudwise was already working on how to better face challenges scaling up that would soon arise. The timing could not have been better and they are now well positioned to continue growing in a smart way by deploying the right technologies.
Cloudwise is currently also looking at possible foreign markets for expansion, although this still remains a challenge. A few years ago, they were a pioneer in the Dutch market but they are now facing more competition nationally as well as internationally. For Huig Ouwehand, there is no need to panic though – ‘”If you really want to do business, you have to dare to take risks. Don’t regret the things you did, but regret the things you didn’t do.”