MakeMatic is developing an on-demand platform for teacher professional development - focused on digital technology and classroom innovation. Teachers can access monthly professional development masterclasses, devised in partnership with globally recognised universities, technology companies and educational non-profits. Each class is focused on education-specific learning that can be applied across the entire curriculum, not just IT-related subjects. Online delivery provides a low-cost, scalable solution that can be constantly updated with expert know-how and industry relevant content. Co-founder Catherine Ross has over 15 years experience as a senior producer with the BBC and independent production companies making award-winning content for both web and TV - including a hugely successful science YouTube channel on behalf of BBC WorldWide.
We chatted with producer-director Catherine to find out more about MakeMatic!
What made you think globally in terms of business?
Working for the BBC made Catherine realise that the corporation went much further than the UK and had so much influence all over the world. We always imagine such a British company as being most relevant to those in the UK, but it is doing many projects internationally. She was able to work in Washington D.C. for 6 months which also allowed her look more closely at and learn about the U.S. market. She was able to work on short films - particularly animated ones - with companies including Dreamworks which was an amazing opportunity!
What made you set up in Derry-Londonderry?
Catherine moved from London to Derry-Londonderry to be closer to family as she has two young children. The digital nature of MakeMatic means that they could be based anywhere in the world including here in Northern Ireland and be just as relevant to - say - a kid in the U.S. or any other country they are creating products for.
How do you start to sell your work on a global scale?
Catherine emphasised collaboration. Collaboration is key - don't do it alone! She suggested teaming up with larger organisations than yourself to help build contacts and set up meetings - for MakeMatic, the BBC and NI Screen have been of particular help. In order to do this, you have to make sure that though they are helping you with their strengths and influence, that YOU need to bring something unique to the table to encourage them to work with you as well. If you are confident in your product and that you are in the top percentile in your sector or specialism, that it is much easier to gain access to new markets. Use mentoring opportunities that are presented to you as it can be invaluable learning from those with more experience. Programmes that she recommended included those run by NI Screen, Invest NI, Go For It, Propel and Ernst & Young many of which visit other countries with delegations.
Which conferences or trade shows have you found particularly useful?
The Children's Media Conference in England has been a great place to showcase MakeMatic's work. Catherine would typically have meetings set up with important clients beforehand and she has some in mind this year for longer term projects which she is very excited about! In the US, SXSW is also key and an important conference for NI delegates. MakeMatic have a brand new showreel which can be seen on their website.