London Business School MBA Grad Co-Creates Online Literacy Platform

mba writers

A London Business School (LBS) MBA grad’s recent successful venture, Pobble, evolved at the intersection of business, creativity, and family.

After earning his English degree from Oxford University, Jon Smith, (MBA, ’15) worked as a civil engineer before pursuing his MBA.

Jon’s brother Henry teaches primary school with a specialty in youth literacy. While observing the wide range of online tools available for STEM education among primary school students, Jon saw the need for similar technology in the realm of writing and reading. Henry bemoaned the fact that there was no database containing models of original writing by other students, and he was constantly disguising samples written by adults as though they came from kids.

Jon recalls, “Henry would show the children his own writing, pretending an eight year old child had done it, and they’d all lose interest… so we started to share actual handwritten work via a … blog, and shared it with a network of teachers.” Henry and Jon teamed up with two other teachers and began to form a network of users for the free service.

Realizing that they needed a business model, the team got to work. They decided to raise capital in a then non-traditional way – by asking their users. Their crowdfunding approach worked, and the team soon found themselves with enough capital to hire developers and to grow the site to what it is today, a platform that shares (according to a recent report) 64,000 pieces of student writing, all written by hand.

Jon said, “[Parents and other relatives] love seeing what children are doing at school and engaging with that… and children also enjoy looking at each other’s work and talking about it.” For profiles of other start-ups launched by MBAs in London, visit our story here.


About the Author

Maggie Boccella

Maggie Boccella, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. She has consulted on various film and multimedia projects, and she also serves as a juror for the city's annual LGBTQIA Film Festival.

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