In our latest North East tech startup spotlight we turn our attention to ChatPro: an instant messaging platform for organisations that work with young people and vulnerable adults.
Founder Harry Serle tells us more about ChatPro and his experience of setting up an edtech company in the North East.
Making communications safe
Communicating with young people was a daily activity for former teacher Harry. However, finding an instant messaging app compliant with safeguarding requirements was difficult. Apps, such as WhatsApp or Snapchat, present safeguarding risks for youth organisations and their members.
“The solution just didn’t the exist”, explains Harry. “If you look at something like a sports club, their solution is to use WhatsApp. And some organisations are excluded altogether from this type of technology, because they take security and safeguarding so seriously.”
Unlike other instant messaging software, ChatPro keeps details secure (contact details are not shared), accountable (messages are archived for 12 months), and controlled (the organisation has administrator rights).
Accessible to all
Harry is hoping that with ChatPro, every organisation that works with young or vulnerable people will have access to a safe way to engage with their users. “My business model is to have a piece of affordably priced technology so that every organisation who has a need is able to afford and access this product. It's a niche that needs filling”, says Harry.
The ChatPro platform took around 12 months to develop which included market research and two rounds of development. As ChatPro works with younger and vulnerable users, the platform has also invested in additional security and legal support to ensure appropriate safeguarding.
ChatPro was set up after Harry completed his Masters in Business. As a solo non-technical founder, Harry reached out to regional business support networks and joined the 6-month long Durham City Incubator Programme to drive and develop his new business.
“If you’re not in the tech world, or not from the tech world, it’s quite a hard one to break into. So the first thing that was really useful for me was having that kind of touchpoint and support, with organisations like Sunderland Software City and Durham City Incubator.
You need that input from the real world and then hook up with someone in the tech world to bring the solution and problem together in a way.”
ChatPro's secured funding from sources including the North East BIC, Durham University, Durham Digital Drive, NBSL, and Innovation SuperNetwork.
The first version of ChatPro is now available for download and serves as a test platform to gather feedback and refine the product offer. ChatPro is looking for users who work with young people to trial the technology.
“Anyone who has got any kind of association with a sports club, youth club, school, or anywhere where they work with children or vulnerable people. They can just get in touch and I’m more than happy to help. I want people to try it and give feedback.... That would be brilliant.”
To get in touch with ChatPro, you can email Harry at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also give ChatPro a follow on ChatPro | LinkedIn
About our North east Tech Stories...
This startup spotlight is part of our wider North East Tech Stories series which features tech startups and growth stories across the North East of England.
Do you have a story you'd like us to feature? Get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
As part of our Tech Stories criteria, we're looking for (startup and growth) businesses who are classed as "tech", based in the North East of England and who have already launched a product or service (can be an MVP).