Bethany Koby tells us how one of the UK’s top design-led, technology sites - Tech Will Save Us - made it big.

Bethany Koby is a mother, maker and the CEO of Tech Will Save Us, a company that’s on a mission to spark the creative imagination of young people using hands-on technology. In 2012 Bethany co-founded Tech Will Save Us to instigate 21st century learning - in the classroom and around the kitchen table - through its beautifully designed DIY Gadget Kits for everyday life. Tech Will Save Us is dedicated to empowering kids - and the adults that love them - with the confidence and skills to create the future. With thousands of kits sold in over 87 countries, the company has grown into a wide range of products designed for a variety of age groups that taps into a wealth of different skill sets. Here, Bethany talks us through her business journey.

I came up with the idea when… I found a laptop in a bin one day and thought it was crazy that someone would throw a working piece of technology away like that. It really highlighted the role that tech has in our everyday lives. We don’t really understand it, yet it pervades everything. So in this thrown-out laptop, Daniel and I saw an opportunity to change not only our relationship with tech, but also the role tech plays in toys. We were wondering if there is a way to make tech more accessible, more personal, especially for younger generations in a time where 65% of children will be in jobs that haven't been invented yet.

Tech Will Save Us was our response to that. We wanted to create a toy brand for the creator generation that empowers kids to transform their worlds with tech, all while learning valuable skills and having fun playing.

The biggest challenge is… always maintaining our amazing team and preserving our company culture. As our company and teams continue to grow, we want to make sure we’re always building a resilient and wonderful business.

The average day is spent… typically going in and out of our London office, whether I’m visiting the House of Commons, flying to the States to go to our New York office or discussing new business plans with advisers in meetings. I feel very fortunate to have an amazing team of advisers, investors and influencers who ensure no one day is the same at Tech Will Save Us.

The team consists of... around twenty-six content creators, product specialists, sales gurus, production experts, educators, engineers, designers and developers in our London office. We also have two sales gurus in New York and one in Paris.

My favourite quote… Always remember this is a journey not a destination.

I am where I am today because of… my parents and family who have always been entrepreneurial, creative powerhouses. From owning their own businesses to being involved in the creative industry, they inspired me to pursue a career in the same fields. As a result, I went on to study Graphic Design at Rhode Island School of Design, followed by a master's degree in Responsibility and Business Practice at Bath University, and eventually became a scholarship holder at Fabrica in Italy. I then spent most of my young career at Wolff Olins as a creative director.

I am who I am because of... My mum who was a teacher at a Montessori school. She's one of those special breeds of people who dedicate their lives to educating children in a way that puts their freedom, independence, and natural curiosity at the front. It involves a lot of learning by doing, exploring with different materials, and figuring things out on your own. She owned the school so there was no way for me to not follow those same Montessori principles, which to a large part shaped my view of the world and my perspective of learning in general.

The best advice I've been given… is surround yourself with examples, mentors, advisers that inspire you to be the kind of entrepreneur and person you want to be. Always keep learning.

In five years I’d like to be… running the most accessible technology company in the toy industry. I hope to inspire and empower a generation of young problem-solvers with hands on technology, so that they understand how technology can help them creatively solve all the problems and also equips them with the tools they need for the jobs of the future. Findings from a recent survey we conducted found, one in three (33%) British children under 15-years-old can code or programme. While this is amazing to see, we are striving to make that percentage higher.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business... is that it’s relentless, and both the hardest and most satisfying journey of your life. Maybe next to being a parent.

The websites I most frequently use are… Google Docs for business, because it’s an easy way to collaborate with our global teams. In terms of inspirational reading and business advice, I turn to First Round Review. For fun, I browse 1stdibs as I love vintage furniture.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us… One of the most exciting, and terrifying aspects of starting your own business is not knowing. Every stage is a learning curve, and a very enriching one at that. I wish that I’d understood more about the manufacturing process and the impact that this has on profit margins. Building the first Tech Will Save Us kits in my kitchen was challenging, however, scaling production up into a global operation, less than two years down the line, was an entirely different ball game.

Apps I use to be more productive… Some of my favorite apps that boost productivity include Trello, SLACK and WhatsApp.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date… It’s hard to pinpoint the most rewarding experience we’ve had to date, but a few highlights come to mind. Tech Will Save Us has been awarded some pretty amazing recognitions, like when the Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired our Gamer Kit for their permanent collection ‘Humble Masterpieces’. We also won a Fast Company ‘Innovation by Design Award’ for Mover Kit last year and took home a win for best range of kid products at CES this year. Another memorable moment was opening the London Stock with our all female fund Allbright or when we partnered with the BBC to design their BBC micro:bit, which was their most ambitious education product they created in over thirty years and was given to one million kids for free in 2016.

August 2017